By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With themes ranging from an homage to a politician to celebrations of clowns and tricksters to tributes to national musicians, the remaining six samba schools paraded in Rio de Janeiro`s Sambódromo on Monday, February 8th as part of the second and final night of the Grupo Especial (Special Group) competition.
The six schools that paraded were, in order: Vila Isabel, Salgueiro, São Clemente, Portela, Imperatriz, and Mangueira.
Vila Isabel opened the night with the presentation of their enredo (theme), “Memórias do ‘Pai Arraia’ – um sonho pernambucano, um legado brasileiro” (Memories of ”Pai Arraia’ – one Pernambuco dream, a Brazilian legacy). An homage to Miguel Arraes, former mayor of the city of Recife, capital of the Brazilian state of Pernambuco, who is remembered for fighting for the underprivileged and as a defender of popular culture and education.
Samba school Salgueiro entered the Sambódromo second and presented the theme “A Ópera dos Malandros” (The Opera of Tricksters). The procession featured scenes from Rio de Janeiro’s nightlife including characters, taverns and cabarets. A zeppelin also flew twenty meters above the school during the parade.
São Clemente then examined the purpose of clowns as they presented the theme “Mais de mil palhaços no salão” (Over a thousand clowns in the lounge). Well known carnavalesco (Carnival designer) Rosa Magalhães returned this year for a second year in a row with the school.
Led for the first time by carnavalesco Paulo Barros, samba school Portela entered the Sambódromo fourth and presented one of the more impressive parades of the night. The presentation of the theme, “No voo da águia, uma viagem sem fim…” ( The eagle’s flight, an endless journey… ) included dinosaurs, a flying Poseidon, and a giant fifteen-meter tall puppet of Jack Black as Gulliver from “Gulliver’s Travels” that stood and was lowered during the parade.
Samba school Imperatriz paraded next with the theme; “É o amor que mexe com a minha cabeça e me deixa assim. Do sonho de um caipira nascem os Filhos do Brasil” (“It is love that messes with my head and makes me so. From the dream of a hillbilly born of the children of Brazil”). The parade paid tribute to sertaneja music (Brazilian country music), and performance artists Zezé Di Camargo and Luciano.
Finally Mangueira samba school paraded last with the theme, “Maria Bethânia: A Menina dos Olhos de Oyá” (Maria Bethânia: The girl with Oyá’s eyes). The theme was a tribute to the over fifty-year career of Brazilian MPB singer and sister of Caetano Veloso, Maria Bethânia Viana Telles Veloso, best known simply as Maria Bethânia.
Brazil’s Minister of Culture, Juca Ferreira, who is a Mangueira supporter, entered the avenue in front of the school. He said “Bethânia is one of the great artists of Brazil and her singing is closely linked to Brazilian popular culture. […] It expresses the best of what there is in Brazil in terms of culture.”
The final results will be tallied live on Ash Wednesday, February 10th. The top six samba schools will then parade again on Saturday, February 13th as part of the Champion’s Parade.