Jul 05 2005

Marianna Leporace & Sheila Zagury: São Bonitas as Canções

Chico Buarque & Edu Lobo’s Beautiful Songs


São Bonitas as CançõesThe first time I heard Chico Buarque and Edu Lobo’s soundtrack O Grande Circo Místico I liked it a lot, but I could not really put into words what it was that attracted me so much to those songs. Naturally, besides being Chico and Edu’s music, the album featured performances by Mílton Nascimento, Simone and Zizi Possi. How could one not like that album? In spite of all that, the original soundtrack album did not have the same impact on me as São Bonitas as Canções did. Not too long ago, while listening to an NPR interview with Stephen Sondheim I realized what was so remarkable about São Bonitas as Canções. That album was like Brazilian Broadway. The same master touch found in Sondheim was present in São Bonitas as Canções with an unmistakable Brazilian way, the jeitinho brasileiro. Do not be confused, though. This album is purely Brazilian.

Marianna Leporace (voice) and Sheila Zagury (piano) did not hesitate in recreating some of the songs from Chico and Edu’s theatre albums O Grande Circo Místico (1982), O Corsário do Rei (1985) and Dança da Meia-Lua (1980) – all written by Edu Lobo and Chico Buarque. In addition to those featured songs, we also get a couple of extra numbers from Edu Lobo’s 1993 Corrupião — “Nego Maluco” — and from Edu and Chico’s 1997 Álbum de Teatro — “Na Ilha de Lia, no Barco de Rosa.” What makes this release even better is the magnificent performance by Marianna and Sheila and their extra care to make the whole album very homogeneous without falling into commonplace. Marianna Leporace & Sheila ZaguryObviously, it was very hard to record “Beatriz” and “O Circo Místico,” previously heard with the voices of Mílton Nascimento and Zizi Possi, respectively. Marianna has the natural ability to do theatre songs without being dramatic. She sings these songs with rare beauty, sensitivity and just the right amount of emotion required by such complex works. With Sheila’s piano, the grand circle is complete. Sheila plays the piano as an extension to Marianna’s beautiful voice, and together they create a new instrument, sometimes jazz and blues (“Bancarrota Blues”), sometimes sublime (“O Circo Místico,” “Beatriz,” “Na Ilha de Lia, no Barco de Rosa”), or even sad (“Meia-Noite”) and lively (“Nego Maluco”). For some tracks, special guests are featured, such as Cacá Colon (drums), Daniela Spielman (sax), Fernando Leporace (bass), José Staneck (harmonica) and Mila Schiavo (percussion).

It would be impossible to pick a best track in this collection. “Na Carreira” starts with such intensity that it gets the listener ready for what is to come in the other tracks. With its fast rhythm, the song serves as a playground for Marianna’s voice. She is secure in her singing and has Sheila’s piano accompaniment maintains all the song vigor. In “O Circo Místico,” we are presented with a short passage narrated by Luiz Fernando Vianna. That is the only track in the album with text being read to music. The result is wonderful. It is moving and gets us to imagine what it would have been to witness the full play with all its texts. Chico Buarque’s duet in “Tororó” and Edu Lobo’s voice in the beautiful “Na Ilha de Lia, no Barco de Rosa” are entrancing. Hearing Edu and Marianna in a duet is like daydreaming. “Valsa Brasileira” is solemnly touching (including the citation of Ernesto Nazareth’s “Coração Que Sente”). And “Tango de Nancy” brings up the fiery passion of Latin romances.

These are beautiful songs, but without the extraordinary performances of Marianna Leporace and Sheila Zagury, the songs would not be the same. This is a beautiful CD with stellar performances.



Marianna Leporace & Sheila Zagury
São Bonitas as Canções
Independent FL01 (2001)
Time: 59’36”


All songs by Edu Lobo and Chico Buarque.

  1. Na Carreira
  2. O Circo Místico
  3. Meia-Noite
  4. Verdadeira Embolada
  5. Nego Maluco
  6. Tororó – w/ Chico Buarque
  7. A História de Lily Braun
  8. Tango de Nancy
  9. Abandono
  10. Beatriz
  11. Na Ilha de Lia, no Barco de Rosa – w/ Edu Lobo
  12. Valsa Brasileira
  13. Choro Bandido
  14. Bancarrota Blues
  15. Na Carreira (vignette)