By Ciara Long, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Botafogo-born samba school São Clemente will perform in the Sambódromo on Monday, February 27th, which is the second and final night of the Grupo Especial (Special Group) competition. The samba school, well-known for use of humour and irony, will present a tale of France’s King Louis XIV and embezzled public funds.

São Clemente samba school, photo by Raphael David/Riotur. Brazil, Brazil News, Rio de Janeiro, Carnival, Carnival 2017, samba schools, special group competition, Sambódromo, Grupo Especial
São Clemente samba school, photo by Raphael David/Riotur.

This is the school’s seventh consecutive year competing in the Grupo Especial competition, after placing ninth last year. São Clemente, which officially formed in 1961 and has a black-and-yellow flag with Sugarloaf Mountain as its centre, found its inspiration for this year’s enredo (plot) in the grandeur of the French court.

The enredo, called ‘Onisuáquimalipanse’, is a play on the French expression ‘honi soit que mal y pense’, which translates to ‘shame on those who think badly of it’. The young and newly-powerful King Louis XIV, enjoying lavish parties and dances, placed lawyer Nicolás Fouquet in charge of French finances.

However, Fouquet sequestered public funding and used it to construct his own castle, Vaux-le Vicomte, on the outskirts of Paris. Upon discovering this, Louis XIV demands the arrest of Fouquet, but commissions the same architects, painters and landscapers to create an even more luxurious palace for himself – the Palace of Versailles.

“It is a story of fraud, told with irony and the irreverence of the carnival,” said Carnavalesco (Carnival designer) Rosa Magalhães to G1. Though presenting excessive luxury and riches, Magalhães explained that the parade will show the deceit in the display of wealth.

São Clemente samba school, photo by Raphael David/Riotur. Brazil, Brazil News, Rio de Janeiro, Carnival, Carnival 2017, samba schools, special group competition, Sambódromo, Grupo Especial
São Clemente samba school performs in 2016’s competition, photo by Raphael David/Riotur.

“We will speak of the French court, castles, banquets, monumental gardens, jewels of the architecture of the time,” she explained, “but with the Brazilian reality: a lot of brilliance, but of false stones and mirrors.”

The parade will open with ballet, an art favoured by Louis XIV, and goes on to show the construction of Vaux-le Vicomte. The castle’s gardens, sculptures and fountains, will proceed through the Sambódromo, but their fraudulent nature will be demonstrated by their inability to fulfil their purpose. “The fountains that gave an even greater perspective to the immense gardens will have no water, only effects,” said Magalhães. “Everything neat, but all deceitful.”

The enredo will finish with Fouquet’s death, after fifteen years in prison. São Clemente warns that any perceived similarity between the French Court and Brazil’s modern politics is purely coincidental. As implied in the title, no-one thinks badly of the actions portrayed.

São Clemente will compete in the Grupo Especial in this year’s Carnival competition at approximately 11:05 PM on Monday, February 27th.

Be sure to stay with The Rio Times to learn more about the other competing schools, winners and additional events during this year’s Carnival.

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