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Of all the modern Brazilian composers, with no distinction between popular or classic, Carlos Lyra is the one who appears to me to be best equipped to write music for theatre. Not for nothing did I – after hearing and hearing again the excellent set of unpublished works of sambas and songs that my dear little partner had left on my tape recorder sometime in mid- 1962 so I could put lyrics to them – resolutely dispose myself to save them from becoming just one more LP released commercially, from which, with a little luck, two or three songs might become hits, if that..

In front of the particular intercommunicability of the songs, of the element of their harmonies so theatrizable, of their expression modularly stageable, with melodies that seemed to be asking for characters that could materialize in sentiments and desires, there was no way I could hesitate. In two or three days was born the story of the Poor Little Rich Girl who falls in love with the Beggar Poet, in a vacant lot in the city where a curious group of beggars live happily within a system quite “sui generis”. And in about two weeks of constant work, as a pair, we had two thirds of the songs written and approved. Now we merely needed to connect them with dialogues and dance, and live the first Brazilian musical comedy in high style! A dream too fine, and I doubt that any composer without deformations of erudition has ever at any time so dreamed.

And that’s where Aloysio de Oliveira comes in. Aloysio is a terrible man. In September of 1962, I being left at rest – I who never had cogitated to step on stage in a club as a showman --, here comes Aloysio and throws together Antônio Carlos Jobim, João Gilberto and myself, with a special participation by Os Cariocas, in a show that really took the city by surprise and managed to reinvent the bossa nova movement such was its national and international repercussion. Six months later, unafraid of repeating an artist (in this case, myself) in such a short interval, Aloysio, knowing about the Poor Little Rich Girl project, repeats his deed: a preview of the first act of the play in an entirely new experiment in Brazil and I believe the world, as far as shows are concerned.

The lights at the club Au Bon Gourmet dim, we tiptoe on stage in almost total darkness. I was about to sit on my improvised cathedra where, text in hand, I awaited, as one who awaits the shot of a 45, the spotlight that shined on me. The band softly swings into “Marcha do amanhecer”, I discreetly take the glass of whisky at hand, take a great gulp and begin: “Imagine a large vacant lot against the tentacular panorama of the distant city…”
Beside me, I felt the cheering of my two companions: Nara Leão, in the role of the Poor Little Rich Girl and Carlinhos Lyra, in that of Beggar-Poet. And during five weeks, carioca youth and those of other states, who had never failed to applaud us since the first rots of the bossa nova movement, came every day to see us. There is not on my part, nor do I believe on the part of Carlos Lyra, any vanity in this, but rather pride and satisfaction in the recognition of these facts. Our musicized comedy, whose libretto is currently being fine-tuned, in a future not longer than a year, when my duties as an employee of Brazil abroad permit, it will be ready to be staged.

Roma, November of 1963

Vinícius de Moraes

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