By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In approximately a month’s time, Rio will host Carnival, the most famous and most anticipated event of the year for Cariocas, expatriates and visitors. Opening the 2018 Carnival parades will be the Série A samba schools, which this year, will be starring at the Sambadrome on February 9th and 10th.
The Série A group consists in the thirteen samba schools that belong to LIESA’s Second League. Every year, the two schools that present the best performance (which is defined in terms of music, clothes, decoration, among other categories, by a jury of specialists) have the opportunity to participate in the “Grupo Especial” (Special Group, which gathers Rio’s best schools) on the following Carnival.
A little known fact among many people is that, besides Grupo Especial and Série A, Rio’s Carnival still includes four other series (B, C, D and E), composed of nothing less than sixty smaller samba schools. Different from the two first groups, series B, C, D and E actually perform at the Intendente Magalhães Avenue, in Rio’s Zona Norte.
Opening the spectacle on February 9th will be Unidos de Bangu, which will enter the Apoteose Avenue at 10PM. Having also opened the Rio Carnival’s parade in 2015, Unidos de Bangu is the oldest samba school from Rio’s Zona Oeste, founded in 1937.
The last time it participated in the Grupo Especial was in 1963. This year, Unidos de Bangu brings to the Sambadrome the theme “A Travessia da Calunga Grande e a Nobreza Negra no Brasil”, which portrays the African diaspora and slavery.
At 10:45 PM, it will be the time of Império da Tijuca, samba school from Morro da Formiga favela community, in Tijuca. Founded in 1940, the school where belonged musician Sinval Silva – Carmen Miranda’s favorite composer – will present in 2018 the plot “Olubajé – Um Banquete Para o Rei”, inspired in the Afro Brazilian “orixa” Obaluaye, god of health and healing.
Following, Academicos do Sossego, from Niteroi, stars at the Sambódromo with the theme “Ritualis”, honoring the diverse rituals from the human cultures. Founded in 1969, Academicos do Sossego promises to surprise the audience this year for Ritualis’ unusual lyrics, which don’t include one single verb, but only nouns and adjectives.
Well known among Carnival lovers, Unidos do Porto da Pedra will enter the Avenue at 12:15 AM. Being part of Grupo Especial from 2002 to 2012, the samba school from Sao Gonçalo (neighbor municipality of Niteroi) will walk on the Sambadrome with “Rainhas do Rádio – Nas Ondas da Emoção, o Tigre Coroa as Divas da Canção!”, theme that pays tribute to the memorable Brazilian radio singers from the 1930s.
Directly from Jacarepagua, in Rio’s Zona Oeste, Renascer de Jacarepagua will perform at 1AM, presenting the plot “Renascer de Flechas e de Lobos”, a homage to the folklore from Brazil’s North.
“This year’s presentation is about originality and overcoming challenges. We will show how the school and the community are happy and united, hopeful for a successful performance,” says Alexandre Rangel, Renascer de Jacarepagua’s “carnavalesco”, person who is in charge of organizing and creating the parade.
Closing the night in style will be Estacio de Sa, Rio’s most traditional samba school, from Estacio, in Rio’s Centro. The history of Estacio de Sa’s intermingles with the history of samba, being the ” legitimate son” of Deixa Falar, the very first samba school, founded in 1927 by renowned composer Ismael Silva, in the neighborhood of Estacio. It was only in 1983, however, that “Deixa Falar” became “Estacio de Sa”.
This year, the traditional school goes to the Sambadrome at 1:45 AM to present “No Pregão da Folia Sou Comerciante da Alegria e com a Estácio Boto Banca na Avenida”, talking about the trade activities from Rio’s colonial period.
The second group of schools from Série A will perform in the Sambódromo on the following night, on Saturday, February 10th. Schools from the Grupo Especial will perform on Sunday, February 11th and Monday, February 12th, and the final scores for all participating schools and their group for the next year’s competition will be given on Ash Wednesday.