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Bibi Ferreira: New York, NY, April 14, 2013

Ernest Barteldes By

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Bibi Ferreira
Alice Tully Hall
New York, NY
April 14, 2013

On her first-ever New York City performance, the legendary Brazilian actor, singer, conductor and theater director Bibi Ferreira took the stage at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall backed by a 20-piece orchestra conducted by maestro João Falcão (who also played acoustic guitar). The ensemble began with an instrumental medley of Chico Buarque de Hollanda's "Flor Da Idade," and Cazuza/Frejat's "Malandragem." Ferreira then walked on stage and kicked things off with the Sammy Fain/Irving Rahal composition "By A Waterfall." She then addressed the audience in English and Portuguese, cracking self-deprecating jokes about her age (she is 91 as of this writing) and her long career.
With an impeccable voice, she did a medley of Portuguese language versions to tunes from Broadway shows she has produced and acted in, in her native Brazil, including Hello Dolly and I Could Have Danced All Night, followed by a selection of English language tunes from other shows she has not performed in, including West Side Story and Cats, the latter of which she jokingly referred to as "a musical with a single song."
Among the highlights was a selection of Brazilian standards by composers such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Dori Caymmi and Vinicius de Morais, including "Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar" and "Sem Mais Adeus." Also notable was the concept of singing popular Brazilian lyrics to the tune of opera songs, blending "One Note Samba" to Gounod's "Soldier Chorus" and Noel Rosa's "Conversa de Botequim" to Verdi's "Drinking Song" from La Traviata.

Ferreira also revisited songs from original musicals she either directed or produced in Brazil, including Buarque's "Gota D' Agua" (from the play of the same name) and one of her crowning achievements: a biographical musical on the life of Edith Piaf, whose music was rediscovered in Brazil thanks to Ferreira's efforts.

As the concert came to a close, Ferreira remarked that she'd heard that Liza Minnelli was in attendance, which duly prompted the American actress and singer to get up from her seat and join her on a few bars "(Theme From) New York, New York," that was clearly improvised but that served as a great close to the show. Bibi Ferreira is in great vocal shape—her voice did not falter even when faced with the demands of the operatic numbers. Her orchestra was in top shape, and as a result the audience (mostly comprised of Brazilian fans) responded very positively.

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