By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Samba school Estação Primeira de Mangueira, best known simply as Mangueira, will be the last school to enter Rio’s famed Sambódromo on February 8th to parade in the Grupo Especial (Special Group) competition during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Carnival.
Well known by the colors picked to represent them, Verde e Rosa (Green and Pink), Mangueira is one of the most popular schools and best-supported samba schools in the city. It is also one of the oldest samba schools remaining in the competition.
Mangueira was founded in 1928 in Morro da Mangueira, an area located near the neighborhood of Maracanã. The school’s founders included sambistas (samba composers) Carlos Cachaça, Cartola, Zé Espinguela, and Nelson Cavaquinho, among others. With its roots in songwriting, Mangueira would go on to become the first school to create an ala (wing) of composers which also included women.
Women would continue to play a major role in the school’s history and in 2015, the school presented the enredo (theme); “Agora chegou a vez vou cantar: Mulher da Mangueira, mulher brasileira em primeiro lugar” (The time has arrived that I will sing: Women of Mangueira, Brazilian woman in first place), a theme that paid tribute to the school’s female members and to the importance of women in society then and throughout history.
While 2015’s parade only earned the school tenth place, during the Magueira’s eight-decade-long history, the school has been crowned the Carnival Champion a total of eighteen times. They have also maintained a spot in the Special Group consistently since 1990.
This year the school will again have a female-focused theme as they present; “Maria Bethânia: A Menina dos Olhos de Oyá” (Maria Bethânia: The girl with Oyá’s eyes). The theme will be a tribute to Brazilian MPB singer Maria Bethânia Viana Telles Veloso, best known simply as Maria Bethânia.
Sister of famous Brazilain singer Caetano Veloso, Bethânia has released almost fifty studio and live albums during her career and is ranked among the ten best-selling Brazilian music artists.
For the parade, Mangueira school member Ciganerey will take over the position of the school’s Intérprete (Interpreter). Ciganerey will fill the position following the former interpreter, Luizito’s death last year. Luzito had held the position from 2007 through 2015.
“I’ve been a member of Mangueira, as support, since 2009. In the last three years, I sang with Luizito. Now, I will replace him,” Ciganerey told G1. “It’s a great responsibility because he was a great performer. But once again I was blessed.”