By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In the early hours of Monday, March 4th, samba school G.R.E.S. Imperatriz Leopoldinense will compete in the Grupo Especial with their parade scheduled to begin at 2:40 AM. The group will present their ‘samba enredo’ (thematic samba composition) entitled, ‘E aí, me dá um dinheiro aí ?’ (So, give me some money then?) which will explore the theme of money and its relationship with human beings, from the invention of the earliest currencies to present-day capitalism.
Imperatriz’s Carnavalescos (Carnival Designers) for 2019, Mário Monteiro and Cacá Monteiro, recently explained to O Globo their reasoning behind this unusual theme for a Carnival parade. They make the point that this is a time when all the samba schools are seeing their funding cut, while a vast majority of the Brazilian population are also struggling through uncertain economic times.
Mário Monteiro comments, “It’s a current issue, we will talk about the relationship between humans and money from the beginning up until the present time, but with good humor, ‘carnivalized’ even.” Cacá Moneteiro adds, “The samba is very good, everyone is excited, and so are we.”
Founded in 1959, in the neighborhood of Ramos, in Rio’s ‘Zona Norte’ (North Zone), Imperatriz are famous for presenting themes of great historical relevance. Presciently, their 2018 parade paid tribute to the 200th anniversary of Rio’s Museum of Natural History (Museu Nacional), which burned down in a fire later in the year.
Imperatriz’ Carnavalesco at the time, Cahê Rodrigues, was even quoted calling attention to the precarious state of the museum. He said, “Museu Nacional cries out for help. It is sad to notice the conditions in which the museum is found. We are talking about a two hundred year-old institution, which is part of Brazil’s history. It is necessary to shed light on this situation, and take better care of this heritage.”
This year’s samba has been composed by a similar team to 2018, with Elymar Santos, Maninho do Ponto, Julinho Maestro, Dudu Miler, Márcio Perci and Jorge Arthur all featuring in the writing credits. The Carnavalescos Mário Monteiro and Cacá Monteiro have also worked with Imperatriz before, bringing the school to fourth place in 2013’s Grupo Especial with a parade about the North-Eastern state of Pará.
After winning their first title in 1961, Imperatriz have gone on to win a total of eight titles in Grupo Especial, including a three-year run from 1999 to 2001.