By Mary Bolling Blackiston, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The G.R.E.S. Imperatriz Leopoldinense, part of the Grupo Especial (Special Group, or group composed of the best samba schools) will be the fourth school to perform in the Sambódromo for the 2014 Carnival competition. The parade is scheduled for Monday, March 3rd in the wee hours of the morning, between 1:20 AM and 2:30 AM.

Imperatriz Leopoldinense Samba School in Carnival 2014, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
G.R.E.S. Imperatriz Leopoldinense at last year’s Carnival, photo by Tata Barretol/Riotur.

The school, which originates from the suburb of Ramos in the Zona Norte (North Zone) of Rio de Janeiro, has won the Carnival competition eight times since being founded in 1956.  Last year, they walked away with fourth place.

This year, the enredo (theme) is called “Arthur X – O Reino do Galinho de Ouro na Corte da Imperatriz” (“Arthur X – The Kingdom of the Golden Cockerel at the Court of the Empress”). It will honor the great former Flamengo soccer player, Zico, also known as Arthur Coimbra.

For the second year in a row the rainha da bateria (queen of drums) is actress Cris Vianna. For all of the ornate, spectacular costumes and design, fans can give recognition to Cahê Rodrigues, Imperatriz’s carnavelesco (carnival designer) for this year.

Imperatriz (“empress” in Portuguese) was named after the Archduchess Maria Leopoldina of Austria, who was also the Empress of Brazil and consort to Emperor Pedro I, has a gold crown as the official symbol, and the official colors of green, white and gold. Another bit of trivia is they are first school to have a cultural department – founded in 1967 – with the goal of facilitating the preparation of storylines and holding educational activities for its members.

Imperatriz Leopoldinense Samba School in Carnival 2014, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
The Imperatriz parade procession at the 2013 Carnival competition, photo by Marco Antonio Cavalcantil/Riotur

It was in 1972 that the school began to garner more attention when TV Globo elected the samba school’s quadra (rehearsal hall) as the setting for the novela “Bandeira 2” (an adaption of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” which is set in Rio). The samba-enredo “Martim Cererê” became the soundtrack for the novela and helped to make Imperatriz well-known throughout Brazil.

Yet it wasn’t until the following decade that Imperatriz started to impress the judges at Carnival. In 1980, Imperatriz kicked off its winning streak, earning the championship for the first time with its theme centering around Bahia and its traditions, called “O que que a Bahia tem?” (“What does Bahia have?”). 

Since then, the club has wowed its spectators again and again, taking first place seven more times. Thanks to former carnavelesco (carnival designer) Arlindo Rodrigues, who stayed at the school from 1980 to 1983, Imperatriz became known for its baroque style, and the group obtained another championship in 1981.

From 1985 to 1988, the school did not receive any notable results; but in 1989, Imperatriz received the championship again with the theme “Liberdade, liberdade, abre as asas sobre nós” (“Freedom, freedom, spread your wings on us”) which celebrated Brazil’s one hundred years as a republic. The 1990s were marked by a great deal of success for Imperatriz, as the group won first place in 1994, 1995 and 1999 and they went on to win in 2000 and 2001 too.

Now, with only a few short weeks until the start of Carnival, it is crunch time for Imperatriz. For those who cannot make it to the Sambódromo Carnival parade on March 3rd, practices offer a glimpse into the real performance. Imperatriz can be witnessed in action on Sundays starting at 8PM, see the the school’s website for more information.

G.R.E.S. Imperatriz Leopoldinense
Rua Professor Lacê, 235
Ramos, RJ
TEL: (21) 2560-8037


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