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Bibi Ferreira at Symphony Space

Ernest Barteldes By

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Bibi Ferreira
Symphony Space
New York, NY
September 23, 2016

On the second of her two-night residence at The Upper West Side's Symphony Space, Bibi Ferreira took to the stage with her "Four Times Bibi" show, which brings together four of her previous shows in which she paid tribute to Frank Sinatra, Argentinean tango legend Carlos Gardel, Portuguese fado singer Amalia Rodrigues and her larger than life interpretation of the music of Edith Piaf, which has become almost obligatory in her performances.

Backed by a 20-piece orchestra, Ferreira kicked off the performance with Raul Seixas' "Eu Nasci Ha Dez Mil Anos Atras," ("I Was Born Ten Thousand Years Ago"), which served as a self-mocking joke about her age—94 as of this writing—with modified lyrics to reflect on her own career. Following an introduction by her manager Nilson Raman, she turned into the music of Rodrigues, masterfully recreating the cadence and feel of the Queen of Fado, o took the music of her nation well beyond its borders. One of the highlights was the playful "Uma Casa Portuguesa," a tune that celebrates the hospitality of the Portuguese people and their culinary. She followed that with a three-song tribute to Gardel which featured some deep cuts instead of his better known material.

The concert's centerpiece was the Sinatra section, which began with Cole Porter's "Night and Day" with more of a show-tune arrangement suitable to her dramatic, theatrical voice. The only part that was a little bit off was the inclusion of a medley from Francis Albert Sinatra/Antonio Carlos Jobim (Reprise, 1967), the first collaboration between Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Ferreira's delivery did not work well with bossa nova tunes like "Water to Drink" or "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars" because she lacks the subtleness that these songs require.

The concert closed with the Piaf section—which most of the audience was clearly looking forward to judging from the applause she received when Raman announced it. Ferreira is quite comfortable with these tunes, since she has been performing them since the 1980s. Her take on "La Vie En Rose" and A Quoi Ça Sert L'Amour" is nothing short of amazing to hear. She briefly left the stage and returned for a two-song encore that featured Chico Buarque de Hollanda's "Gota d' Agua" (from the 1975 musical of the same name that she starred in) and "Theme from New York, New York," arranged more closely to Liza Minnelli's version.

It was another memorable performance for Ferreira, who is still a force to be reckoned with—she has great energy on stage and her voice is in great shape. The orchestra—under the direction of her longtime conductor Flavio Mendes (who also played acoustic guitar) sounded incredibly tight.

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