Fado is, by its very nature, the song of Lisbon. It was taken to the four corners of the world by the famous diva Amália Rodrigues, considered the best ever exponent of a very Lusitanian soulful yearning. In 2011, Fado was classified as a Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
Inspired by a very personal sentiment, a soul that is felt but not explainable, Fado remains the most noble and genuine expression of popular Portuguese culture. And given this very special nature, Fado is always a surprise for visitors to Lisbon.
Fado is fado and cannot be otherwise categorised. It is the music that issues forth from the Portuguese soul. Nevertheless, there are those who seek divisions between professional and amateur fado. The former is sung by those with the voices and talent to make it their profession and ensure the prestige of Portuguese singing extends beyond national borders.
The latter, amateur fado, takes on other characteristics even while incorporating the same sentimental emotion in the singing.
In the amateur fado houses, which again thrive in fado’s spiritual home of Alfama and other traditional neighbourhoods such as Bairro Alto, the fado singer is never invited, he or she makes her own invitation. Similarly, there is no pre-set line up. A grilled smoked sausage is served to accompany a few glasses of wine before the lights go down and the magic of such gatherings bursts forth. Whoever wishes to sing, does so giving full reign to their inner sentiments.
The spirit of an amateur fado house is entirely different to those of more established professional fado houses where the full ritual and ceremony of such occasions is brought to the fore in a celebration of emotions and wills.
From the Bairro Alto to the Alfama, discover the best Lisbon Fado has to offer.