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14 May 2007
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A New Style for Portugal¹s Old Fado, but the Songs Are Still Full of Emotion

When Dulce Pontes started a song with the words "meu amor" ("my love2) at
Carnegie Hall on Thursday night, she flooded them with emotion: longing,
seductiveness, bravado, desperation, strength. It was quintessential
Portuguese fado singing, with long-breathed swoops and tempestuous dynamic
surges, simultaneously abandoned and refined.

Ms. Pontes has an extraordinary voice: tangy and sympathetic, delicate and
searing, extending upward to an airborne soprano. She has become one of
Portugal¹s biggest pop stars by carrying fado style into new contexts and
collaborations; she has sung with Andrea Bocelli, Brazilian rockers, a
flamenco guitarist and the film composer Ennio Morricone. But she stays
rooted in tradition, and she periodically reaffirms her connections to it.

Her Carnegie Hall concert ‹ reflecting her most recent album, "O Coração Tem
Três Portas" ("The Heart Has Three Doors") (Universal) ‹ used the
understated accompaniment of guitars, cello and piano, and it set aside most
of her pop hits to look back into Portuguese music. Fado, particularly in
the style of Portugal¹s most influential singer, Amália Rodrigues, frames
its volatile singing, with Gypsy and Arabic underpinnings, within elegant
Baroque-tinged accompaniments.

Over the meticulous fingerpicking of acoustic guitar and the round,
higher-pitched Portuguese guitar, Ms. Pontes suffused slow fados, "Ovelha
Negra" ("Black Sheep") and "Não É Descgraça Ser Pobre)" ("It¹s No Disaster
to Be Poor"), with the classic tone of foreboding and tragedy. And she wryly
celebrated drinking in the bouncy fado "Velha Tendinha" ("Old Bar").

She also touched on folk styles. "Resineiro" had the audience clapping along
to a foursquare rhythm from the Beira Alta region of Portugal. For a medley
entitled "Folclore", Ms. Pontes hitched up her gathered skirt and tied it
around her waist with a scarf to reveal bare feet and jinglebells around her

Her guitarist Amadeu Magalhães switched to gaita-de-foles, a Portuguese
bagpipe, to play an almost Celtic-sounding melody. Ms. Pontes became both
singer and dancer, stamping her feet for rhythm (something like an English
morris dancer), miming farm work and opening up her voice to sound sharper,
rawer and more rural. It was concertized folk music, complete with cello,
but it had spirit.

Ms. Pontes plays arena shows in Europe, and she looked surprised at how
subdued the Carnegie Hall audience was when she cued it for a singalong,
then laughed it off. And even as she sang about heartbreak and affliction,
she conveyed joy in a Portuguese heritage that stays distinctive.

Jon Pareles
New York Times

Published: May 12, 2007

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Biografía: She could have been a dancer, if the dancing sigue...

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