Today, we celebrate the city we dream of for the future, and everything in its past that will take us there.
The Festas de Lisboa are back, this time with a programme which invites us to reflect upon the city’s past, as a means to shape its future. It is no coincidence that the festival kicks off at one of the city’s most symbolic places: the Belém Tower. The monument’s 500th anniversary will be marked by a show where the Tower and the Tagus River melt into each other to become a single stage of theatre, music and multimedia performances. It is going to be a multi-sensory experience that will take us on a journey of reflection through time, up until the present day.
It is a tribute to the city and its inhabitants, among them being Santo António (St. Anthony) of Lisbon. Pope Leo XIII named him the Saint of the whole world and it is perhaps because of this that the anniversary of his death continues to be so popular and is revisited year after year. Today, the people of Lisbon, who are also people of the whole world, get married, parade and commemorate a time when the whole city unites in celebration.
Street dances, street parties organised by local neighbourhoods, popular marches and countless displays made to the cult of Santo António pay homage to the man who is considered by the people to be the patron Saint of the city and the Festas de Lisboa, vamping up old, religious and secular traditions with the modernity and spontaneity of today.
This year, we are going to try and reinvent one of these traditions: Santo António’s thrones. We are challenging neighbourhoods, families and children to create their own thrones and to put them on show outside their homes, as was custom in the past, because it is only in passing on these testimonies and experiences that we can create a future with memory.
The future will also begin with ‘Andar em Festa’ which this year is the result of a challenge put forward to the public to engage at unique spots: the city’s steps. Original and diverse projects have come to light from the winning proposals submitted, where Lisbon’s stairs and steps are taken over by choral music, DJs, installation art and breath-taking architectural interventions.
If the sardine is the traditional delicacy of neighbourhood parties, it is a total celebrity in the city. On every street, sardines seduce those that pass them by, on a tram or in a café. At the exhibition created in their honour, it is their voice and unimaginable stories that will be heard, under a motto no other than: A Minha Vida Dava Uma Sardinha (My life could be a Sardine).
At the Teatro das Compras, the past is reinvented yet again. The scene is downtown Lisbon and its 100 year old shops whilst the play’s main theme is traditional commerce. With the collaboration of contemporary writers, the original texts’ performance and staging are confused with everyday activity, revealing mini stories in peculiar contexts.
And because there isn’t a party without music, we’re putting on the Lisboa Mistura festival again, where music from all over the world “mixes” with Lisbon, in an intercultural dialogue of experiences which inscribes new artistic languages and, this year’s edition, also calls for reflection with its round-table discussions.
However, other festivals also make up the celebrations. Choirs will come together once again in Belém to sing as one voice at an international festival which brings several hundreds of choralists from all over the world to Lisbon. And because big bands play such an important role in the musical education of future generations, they will come from all over the country to meet in Lisbon.
This month of joyful celebrations will come to a close with ‘Voz e Guitarra’, which is just one show, played over two nights, with performances from dozens of Portuguese artists from different generations.
This brings us back to our journey’s point of departure: a date in time with the Belém Tower and the Tagus River as a backdrop.
EGEAC’s Board of Directors