Fado experience in Lisbon

By Jennifer Gardner
This item appears on page 12 of the November 2020 issue.

Reading Rick Steves’ article about fado (Sept. ’20, pg. 27) brought back the memory of an exceptional opportunity I had in February 2020.

I had heard so much about fado, Portugal’s traditional ballads, and wanted to learn more, so on a visit to Lisbon I went to the Fado Museum (Alfama, Largo do Chafariz de Dentro 1, Lisboa; phone +351 21 882 3470, www.museudofado.pt/index.php/en), which I highly recommend.

There, I asked where I could listen to fado and was told of many bars and restaurants in the area. However, as a single female traveler, I wasn’t too keen on a late night in a possibly touristy place.

The museum recommended I get in touch with the Amália Rodrigues Foundation (Rua de São Bento 193, Lisboa; phone +351 213 971 896, amaliarodrigues.pt [in Portuguese only]), located at the house where “the voice of Portugal,” fado singer Amália Rodrigues, lived until her death in 1999.

Fado was performed there at 6 p.m. on Fridays in a converted garage integrated with the house. The gatherings were small and intimate (around 12 people), but the icing on the cake was that that evening’s singer, Mathilde, had been featured in the museum’s presentation about fado.

Arriving around 4 p.m., I had a private tour beforehand and was offered a glass of wine in the garden. The tour and the ticket cost 25 (near $30). It was worth every penny!

I believe that during the summer, they have fado in the garden from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays, but check for times. To reserve a spot to attend the performance, call +351 961 293 682 or email jardimdaamalia@gmail.com.

The metro stop (Rato, on the Yellow Line) was a short walk from the Amália Rodrigues Foundation, and I returned to the hotel glowing. It was a truly authentic and memorable experience.

El Segundo, CA