Sunday, March 7, 2010

Our Introduction

Welcome to's tribute to Elis Regina. I hope that you'll enjoy this special on-line presentation and would like to thank Robert St. Louis for his hard work, love and dedication to the memory of Elis...

After reading through a portion of this wonderful transcript, a colleage said recently, "Elis Regina was born to destiny, much like a shooting star that streaked across the Brazilian night." In this case, the poetic timbre is no accident, and the push against hyperbole stands aside for this singer's story: From her beginnings in far south Porto Alegre, she made her way to Rio in 1964, endured Jobim's initial rebuff ("That gaúcha is a bit of a country bumpkin," he's reported to have said. "You can still smell the barbecue on her."), and rode the crest of the new MPB movement while reinventing Bossa Nova in São Paulo. All in 37 short years.

Stories abound, fact blends into legend as the years pass, but one of my favorites is a recounting of one particular show.

With the final notes of her performance still thundering through the auditorium, the singer bowed slightly, then stood purposely erect, trembling with emotion as the waves of applause washed over her. And with tears streaming down her face, she raised her arms out to her sides to mimic Christ's crucifixion, mocking the newly created dictatorship that held forth over Brazil in 1964.

For Brazil, it was a moment captured in time, an action that defined the social rubric for post-Bossa Brazil. Protest and passion were quickly replacing Bossa's awakening of innocence. For us, the story is a place to begin to understand the life of Elis Regina.

March 17th marks Elis Regina's birthday, but even those who only casually observed this singer's meteoric career knew that fate would hold to a much shorter calendar. Elis Regina died of a drug overdose on January 19th, 1982, putting a coda on an all too brief roller coaster of a life that was filled with riotous emotion and more than enough music to sustain us long after she had gone.

Nicknamed 'The Hurricane', - an allusion to her mood swings - Elis Regina's talent was beyond measure and had no equal. Indeed, in the ensuing 20 years, the void created by her passing has gone largely unfilled in Brazilian song. Today, Gal Costa still reigns as the Grand Dame while singer such as Leila Pinhireo and Zizi Possi battle for position as her heirs apparent while staving off a plethora of challenges from succeeding generations. But who could possibly claim Elis Regina's position today? Silence stands in answer, ringing as loudly as those cheering masses that day in Brazil, long ago...

Much like Charlie Parker, Woody Gutherie or Placido Domingo, Regina's music demands that you involve yourself. And much like Janis Joplin's, Regina's tempestuous life sought its creative release on stage and in the studio. Her story is an amazing one and now it's here for you to read at your leisure.

Elis Regina's definitive biography, "Furacão Elis," by Regina Echeverria was first published in Brazil in 1985. The book was an immediate sensation, and remained a best seller for quite some time. In 1991, a dedicated fan named Robert St. Louis began a four-year project to translate the book to English. Although not a professional translator, St. Louis has nevertheless provided the world with a wonderful gift - he credits nearly a dozen and a half people who supplied guidance for the accuracy of his work. Graciously, Robert St. Louis has given us permission to present this book, in it's entirety for you to enjoy and share with your friends as a permanent additoin to

Fittingly, that's how an original copy of this book came to me. I was a houseguest with producer David Hadges' family while visiting Rio in 1989, and after we had finished a long lunch, the conversation turned to Elis. "Come with me," he said, and we went to his study, where he handed me the book you're about to read.

To this day, I carry two special memories of that afternoon in the Brazilian Spring; One, of looking out David's 3rd story window from his Lagoa condo to view the Corocvado mountain and the Christ statue playing with the clouds far above. The other memory was of a new friendship that came so easily half a world away.

Back then, it always took two books for me to read just one, but happily today, no dictionary is needed to enjoy one of Brazil's most enthralling musical stories: The life of Elis Regina.

Always a pleasure,

Scott Adams

Share Your Comments


As our world grows ever smaller, the prominence of cultural icons such as Elis Regina begins to shrink as well, slowly replaced by the quickening pace of the latest trend, the 24 hour news cycle, and the next subject for his or her “15-minutes of fame.”

So, for taking the time and effort to read about Elis Regina, I thank you.

Elis was dynamic in her music and polarizing in her personal life. And while author Regina Echeverria’s biography is controversial, its critics have never gained much traction – in Brazil or beyond. The same can be said of Ruy Castro’s excellent history of ‘Bossa Nova’. Considering the magnitude of both topics, it is confounding that more published works have not been researched and written.

Regardless, ‘Furacão Elis’ (Hurricane Elis) never fails to elicit passionate response from its readers, and you are welcome to share your comments by sending us an email with your thoughts.

We’ll post comments on this page for others to consider and enjoy.

Happy reading,

Scott Adams

Preface to this edition


Elis Regina Carvalho Costa
Born March 17, 1945 at 15:10 in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Died January 19, 1982 at 11:45 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.


It is Brazil Night at the 13th Montreux Jazz Festival, in 1979. This evening of the festival is traditionally reserved to showcase some of the best musical talents from Brazil. The audience awaits with great anticipation the arrival of the main performer, a female singer who has been at the forefront of Brazilian popular music since the mid-60's. In the audience are such luminaries as Rick Wakeman and Chick Corea, and the backup musicians are visibly nervous as they warm up.

At the rear of the stage, a small figure appears. She has always been extremely nervous before going onstage, ever since the days when, as a girl of twelve, she would get nosebleeds before going up to the studio microphone during the local radio show for children. She starts to vocalize to warm up her voice and chase away the nervousness. The audience notices her and gives her a spontaneous standing ovation.

As she walks up to the microphone, she is visibly moved by the audience's greeting, and has tears in her eyes. The band starts into the first number and her rich, generous voice starts to fill the evening air. But the tears have messed up her mascara - she has problems seeing and keeps rubbing her eyes. The band is loosening up as she struggles to regain her composure.

At one point, looking at the cheering audience in front of her, the singer asks herself: "What the hell am I doing on this stage? I'm just the daughter of a cleaning lady!" Her manager, watching in the wings, fears that she is on the brink of failure. He reaches out and offers her a glass of water. She takes a few gulps and returns quickly to the mike, obviously struggling with herself, a look of fear and determination in her darting eyes. She gradually gets stronger and eventually regains control. The audience is mesmerized by her every move, by the energy that emanates from her, and by the power of her voice. She no longer looks like the small, waif-like figure that first entered the stage. She now owns the stage. She looks like a giant.

Like a hurricane.


With a natural talent, and a will that seemed to spring from a bottomless well, Elis Regina Carvalho Costa rose from very average lower-class beginnings to quickly become one of the most well-known, well-loved and well-paid entertainers in her country's history. She was nicknamed Furação (hurricane) and also Pimentinha (little pepper) because of her seemingly boundless energy. Her first name became a household word and several of her records are simply titled "Elis". Through her coverage of their songs, several of her country's most prominent composers were introduced to the limelight. She made many friends during her life and career, as well as some enemies. The one thing she didn't leave behind her was apathy: she made a difference in all the lives that she touched, if only with her voice. She once said: "I have dedicated my life to singing, and there isn't a man, father, mother or child that can drag me away from that."

Her Early Life

Elis was born to relatively poor parents in Porto Alegre, a city located in the south of Brazil. Her mother was a housewife and her father was in and out of jobs. She was the first child, to be followed by an only brother, Rogério, a few years later. Her mother was the daughter of Portuguese immigrants, and her father was of Brazilian descent. Family pictures show Elis to be impeccably dressed by her mother, with ribbons always in her hair. The Costas could pick up Argentinean radio stations and Elis at a very young age could sing Spanish songs as well as Portuguese.

By the time she entered grade school, she already knew how to write, read and count. Her mother gave a tremendous amount of attention to Elis, but may have inadvertently smothered her, with future repercussions as we shall see.

A local radio station featured a children's show called Clube do Guri, where children often sang on the air. Elis' first experience at the microphone was at the age of 7, where she froze and could not utter a sound. At the age of 9, Elis took piano lessons for 2 years. She learned very fast, and eventually faced a dilemma: either buy a piano or stop her studies. She began to sing because they could not afford a piano.

When she was 12, she returned to Clube do Guri, and this time she didn't freeze. She was a sensation and won the prize, the first of many... For 2 years, she sang on the show almost every Sunday, and became a local celebrity. Her only fear came when she had to go on stage. Until the end of her life, Elis became intolerable before going on stage: she always had the same insecurity, the same fear of making mistakes, of not being perfect.

Soon thereafter, she signed her first professional contract, at 13 and 1/2, with Radio Gaucha. There was some reticence from her mother, who wanted Elis to do well in school, possibly becoming a teacher some day. She felt that music would not last. Anyway, they came up with some kind of compromise and Elis' singing career continued. Not even 14, Elis was earning more money than her father. This created a family conflict that would only worsen as the years went by and her income increased.

At 15, Elis was urged to go to Rio de Janeiro, where she recorded her first LP. She was to record 3 records there, returning to Porto Alegre between each.

Eventually, Porto Alegre had nothing to offer her, and Elis went with her father to live in Rio. He was out of work and hoping to find some there. Elis was 18.

They arrived in Rio around the same time that a military junta took over control of the country. Her mother stayed behind with Rogério and a young cousin that she was raising. Later, the mother would say that she lost her daughter at 19 years old.

Her Rise To Fame

It didn't take long for Elis to land a contract with a TO station, where she sang on various shows, and became quickly known. She did not arrive in Rio a quiet and timid girl, but rather with confidence and an aggressive desire to make a mark for herself. The Bossa Nova reigned at the time, but the "coolness" of that genre did not suit Elis' personality or her voice, which were very "hot". She was not well dressed, and looked somewhat awkward on stage, but her voice commanded attention and made people notice her. She was a rough pearl, full of talent.

Some months later, her mother and brother joined them in Rio. Elis had a boyfriend at that time, named Solano. At some point, she became pregnant and got an abortion without telling him. Solano felt that Elis was taking all the space, and that he did not want to become the "singer's husband". The relationship came to an end. At home, Elis realized that she had economic control over her family (her father had still not found work). On one hand, she wanted to fly her own wings, but was guilty to leave her family in need. She never really resolved that quandary, and to the end of her life, had difficult relations with her family.

Elis faced a very competitive music market in Rio, with club owners, radio and TV stations, and numerous musicians and singers caught up in intense turf battles. She made friends and enemies, and had to learn to survive. In 1965, she sang at the first big popular music festival, and won first prize for her rendition of Arrastão, a controversial song that had come close to being censored by the ruling military government. She finished the song with strong voice, her arms outstretched like the Cristo Redentor, tears in her eyes and a smile on her face. Her career took off from then. She was on the cover of magazines, and was sought after by record companies, music producers, TV, etc. In 1966, at 21 years old, Elis was the highest paid singer in the country. She remained the reigning queen of Brazilian popular song until her death.

Her First Marriage

Successes followed each other. Money flowed in and although she made sure that her family lived in comfort, her relations with her parents did not improve, and were marked by long periods of little or no contact, interspersed with periods of intense fighting. In 1967, she shocked the music world by announcing her upcoming marriage to one of her arch-enemies from the turf battles in Rio, Ronaldo Bôscoli, a composer/producer called the Don Juan of Rio. She was 22 and he was 38. They remained married for 6 years, and had a son together. Their relationship was one of open and passionate love and hate, as they would often get into terrible arguments in front of journalists. He had come from a rich, cultured family that had lost all its money while he was a child.

Elis always had a very volatile temperament, alternating between extremes of joy and anger. This wreaked havoc on all of her relationships, but particularly with the one with Bôscoli. Their arguments became legendary, although they did have their good moments together. He was somewhat of a father figure to her, and proceeded to teach her manners and social etiquette that she was evidently lacking. He taught her how to dress and suggested that she cut her hair short like Mia Farrow - the look became a trademark with her. He claimed that one of the reasons for her bad relations with her parents is that they had used her when she was young, to make money from her voice.

In the end, he indeed became the "singer's husband", and of the most famous singer in Brazil to boot. This put great stress on their marriage. While she was travelling the country and the world because of her growing career, he stayed on the sidelines or at home, often drinking. When they broke up, and in retaliation to rumours that he had married her for money, he said that he had walked into the marriage with 3 suitcases, and came out with 2, and nothing else. The third suitcase contained series of love letters and personal documents from his past that Elis had burned during a fit of anger. Their house overlooked the ocean in Rio, and one day after a particularly strong argument, she had also thrown into the water his collection of LPs by Frank Sinatra. Until the end of her life, Elis maintained a bitter grudge against Bôscoli, and made it difficult for him to even see his child.

Her Second Marriage

Her next relationship was with the pianist on her current recording, César Camargo Mariano, a talented musician/arranger who was a shy, quiet, sensitive man (very different from Bôscoli). He had been totally enthraled with her, sitting in the same studio for weeks/months. One day, she invited him to come to her house to see Bergman's film "Wild Strawberries" (she always had an avid interest for cinema). When he got there, he found a lot of people and was uncomfortable. Between two reels, she slipped him a piece of paper and quietly told him to go read it in the bathroom. When he got there, the paper read: "I want you".

Uncertain as to what to do (he was married at the time), he climbed out the bathroom window and scampered home.

The next day, at the studio, Elis was distant to him. At some point, César asked the producer to send the other musicians away, so that he could record a ballad with Elis, accompanying her on the piano. At the end of the day, she offered him a ride home in her car. He stopped at his house to pick up his toothbrush and they wound up at her house. She was a woman who possessed tremendous personal appeal. César divorced his wife and married Elis thereafter. They were married for 8 years and had 2 children together. Although they had their fair share of quarrels, overall their relationship was quite a good one. On vinyl, the musical marriage of César's arrangements with her voice is something truly special. Elis knew some of the happiest moments of her life with César and the three children. They would spend a lot of time in an idyllic country house, away from the smog and hustle of São Paulo, which had an 'in ground' pool but no telephone.

A Political Anecdote

In 1969, while Elis was touring some European countries, she said during a press conference that Brazil was run by "gorillas", in a direct attack to the military junta ruling the country. Only her prominent stature in the music world apparently prevented her from being persecuted, exiled or even jailed by the Junta upon her return, as had been done to other outspoken composers and performers of that period (Veloso, Gil).

A couple of years later, however, she was compelled to sing the national anthem at a big ceremony put on by the military government to celebrate the anniversary of Brazil's independence (according to César, she was threatened with prison if she did not show up). This appearance attracted the criticism of many people in the Arts community and on the Left, who were opposed to the military rulers. There was a cartoonist named Henfil who published in one of the large newspapers. He had a series of cartoons called the cemetery of the living-dead, in which he would portray publicly known people (living dead) who had ridiculed themselves or fallen out of favour. Following her singing at the military gathering, Elis appeared in Henfil's cartoon, in which she metamorphosed into Maurice Chevalier singing to a crowd of saluting Nazis.

Some time later, Henfil and Elis found each other at the same table in a restaurant along with a crowd of people, after one of her shows. During the meal, Elis started attacking Henfil, saying that he should not have depicted her in such a way in his cartoon when he didn't know all the reasons behind her presence at that ceremony.

She then started to cry, asking "Why did you bury me alive?". Henfil told her that it was just a cartoon but Elis would hear nothing of it. Finally, Henfil sort of apologized for it and he and Elis then began discussing a number of things, and eventually became good friends. Elis would often call him up to discuss politics or other issues. She would also give him money to give to intellectuals who were condemning and opposing the junta, since he had contacts in that area.

Some years later, when the Junta appeared to be on the way out, and when there was talk about whether or not to provide an amnesty to the many people who had been exiled for political reasons, Elis picked up a song by João Bosco and Aldir Blanc, called O Bébabo e A Equilibrista (The Drunk and The Tightrope Walker) and made it her own, producing a wonderful recording of it in 1979. The song was an allegory about the absurdity of the military government, and the fragility of freedom. It featured a line that said "bring back Henfil's brother" (Henfil had a brother who had been exiled). Because of Elis' rendition of it, the song became the anthem for the amnesty of exiled Brazilians, and contributed to uniting people on this issue, with the result that the government eventually gave in and amnestied the exiled.

At a concert that she gave around the time of the amnesty, Elis sang that song triumphantly. Henfil was in the audience, with his newly arrived brother. When the song was over, Elis looked at him with a way that seemed to say "We're even now." A few days after her death, there was a memorial concert in the Morumbi stadium in São Paulo, where several of the country's most popular singers sang tributes to Elis.

The high point of the show was when all the singers and the audience (100,000 in all) joined in to sing O Bébabo E A Equilibrista. What a moment that must have been...

Career Highlights

Elis was one of the most well-loved entertainers in her country's history. Several high points mark her career, as well as some low ones. First, there were the tremendous successes in the popular music festivals of the mid-60's that launched her career. In 1965, fate united her with another young singer, Jair Rodrigues, for a stage performance. They worked so well together that they became an extremely popular team who gave many concerts and produced 3 live records together (the Dois Na Bossa series) over a 3-year period.

In the late 60's, Elis toured some European countries and was a hit at the Olympia in Paris; she also recorded an album with Toots Thielemans in Sweden, and with Peter Knight in London.

In 1974, Elis was sent to L.A. by her record company to record an album with the master of modern Brazilian popular music, Antonio Carlos (Tom) Jobim. The record, simply called ELIS & TOM, is legendary, timeless, and generally regarded as one of the top 10 Brazilian popular records of all time. A little later, she put on a stage show in São Paulo called FALSO BRILHANTE, featuring dance, mime and music; it went on for 18 months and is probably one of Elis' finest moments. Other shows that she put on and which were large successes were ESSA MULHER (1979), SAUDADE DO BRASIL (1980), and TREM AZUL (1981).

During the latter, she was singing under the influence of cocaine and attained levels of vocal expression exceeding what she had ever done, according to some commentators. One low point was an appearance that she made at the Montreux Jazz Festival, in 1979. She and the band were enthraled at having been invited to that prestigious gathering, and they were nervous because of the famous musicians in attendance in the audience. During the warmup, as Elis was vocalizing offstage, the audience gave a standing ovation. Elis was so moved when she hit the stage that she started crying, which messed up her eye makeup and made it difficult for her to see. The first part of the concert was a fiasco because of that. She recovered enough in the second part to end on a good note but overall, the whole affair was very disappointing for her.

Another low point was an episode in the late 70's with the jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter. They were to record an album together, and Elis felt that this could launch her into an international career. She and César put up Shorter in their home; she would cook him breakfast while he meditated or went on his jog, and they generally did all they could to please him. In the end, when they finally got to the studio, it became evident that Shorter only intended Elis to play a minimal background vocal role in the recording. César became indignant at this and angrily criticized Shorter, who packed up his stuff and left the country.

Overall, though, her career is marked by many more successes than failures. She carried several notebooks in her purse, in which she would meticulously note down plans for the future, engagements, concert dates, song titles for possible recording, etc. As late as the night before her death, she was still entering plans for the future into her notebooks.

Her Tragic End

Around the time that her marriage with César broke up for good, Elis started using cocaine, probably after a stay in the U.S. She did this in the secrecy of her own bedroom, or dressing-rooms backstage. Even her family and closest friends knew nothing about it (which in fact contributed to her untimely death). In a way, cocaine may have provided her with the crutch that she needed at that time in her life, when she was trying to cope with raising three children, supporting her parents, and maintaining a very demanding career (touring, recording, engagements, etc.).

Soon after, Elis fell in love with her lawyer, Samuel MacDowell. In December 1981, they decided to get married in the coming year. As the year 1982 got underway, Elis's life opened up with many new ventures: a marriage with Samuel, a new house for their family, a new recording contract with a different company, a new show with a different band, etc. She was in the process of coming up with the songs for her new album, and getting ready to enter the studio, as well as finalizing the move to the new house that she would share with Samuel, when she succumbed to a bad combination of Cinzano and cocaine, during a night that she spent up alone in her bedroom, making plans for the future and listening to tapes for her new record.

An accident and a senseless waste. This was on January 19, 1982. She was not yet 37 years old. Brazil was shocked and shattered by the news.


Elis was often a controversial public figure. She took chances in her career and public life, and had her share of both great successes and dismal failures, although the good by far outweighed the bad. Her personal life consisted of great peaks and valleys, characterized by difficult relations with her parents, and often- tortuous relationships with the men who shared her life. She was opinionated, and publicly defended her views forcefully and convincingly, even though her viewpoints would often change drastically. She once said: "Between the wall and the sword, I am drawn toward the sword".

She was a temperamental person whose mood could quickly shift from exuberance to terrible anger and frustration. She was often very demanding of the friends around her, but would give a tremendous amount in return. It was said that there was no better place to be than around her when she was on top of things. Not when she was down, however, as she could then make life very miserable to those around her. She loved to cook a big meal for friends, and maintained a meticulous house, with everything in its place. She knew how to manage a house with children, and was very handy with crafts like crochet and knitting.

Elis was afflicted with an insecurity regarding the more intellectual composer/singers such as Gilberto Gil or Caetano Veloso, and late in life even considered going back to school to enhance her intellectual side.

Having attained the status of top singer in the country at an early age, Elis fought all her life, and successfully, to maintain that status, because she could not bring herself to accept to being anything else than first. This drove her to be very demanding of herself and others. She was driven by a strong sense of achievement and was a perfectionist. She once said "I make a lot of compromises with my clothes, my friends; but with my stage, there are no compromises".

She could easily have become one of the top singers in the world, if she had so wished. A small woman, her stage presence was so strong that she often appeared to be a giant. She had an ear for music and language that would have enabled her to sing convincingly in almost any language. But she loved her country and didn't want to be away from it for the long periods of time required to engender an international career.

Shortly after she died, a newspaper paid homage by publishing a caricature of her at the microphone, casting a shadow on the wall behind her; but instead of her shadow, it was the outline of Brazil that was projected. She was the soul of brazilian popular music, and her death has left a void that can never be filled. In a way, this void serves to remind us of the great talent that breathed so much life into 20 years of recorded and stage music.

Elis always took great care in choosing the songs that she would sing, either because they described aspects of her life, or portrayed her aspirations. In the end, I feel that those who know her music are probably the ones who know her best. She once said: "When I get old like Edith Piaf, they will put me on the stage. It's the only thing that I know how to do, and which will be left to me: singing."

Obrigado e Boa Noite, Furação.

(Thank you and good night, little hurricane.)

Robert St-Louis

Author's Note (March 20,1996)

"Both Brasil and the world are full of excellent singers. I'm not interested in being an extraordinarily good singer. I just want to use the gift that Mother Nature gave me to diminish, by using it, the anguish of someone. This idea is what can give meaning to my work."

- Elis Regina

I wrote the biographical text above a few years ago, mainly to provide an introduction to details of Elis Regina's life and career to English language readers who may not have the opportunity to read her biographies or articles written about her in the Brazilian press. I have also translated her biography Furacao Elis (Hurricane Elis) into English.

Although I would probably write the biographical summary of Elis somewhat differently if I were to write it today, I have decided to leave my previous version intact, warts and all. Instead, it was suggested that I write this author's note, to bring the story up to date.

On March 17, 1996, just a few days ago (as I sit writing this), Elis would have turned 51. It is difficult to imagine just what she would have been doing, musically speaking, in the 14 years since her death in 1982.

Surely, she would have continued to record albums with her characteristic flair for repertoire selection, her impeccable taste, as well as her commitment to quality and the quest for perfection. She would also have continued appearing on TV specials, and on concert stages. Perhaps she would have decided to try to establish that elusive international career and perhaps, as a result, I and many others north of the equator would have had the pleasure of seeing her perform live. She would probably have recorded a joint album with Milton Nascimento, as they had planned to do prior to her death. She may also have decided to venture into more "jazz" oriented ventures, or even to record an album of secular, classical" vocal music, an idea that had been toyed with during the last months of her life.

One thing for sure is that she would have remained, to this day, one of the landmark performers in Brazilian popular music, continuing to take chances on new repertoire and material from previously unknown composers and lyricists, as she had done all her life. We would have considerably more jewels to pick from in her recorded repertoire, and we could look ahead with anticipation to what she would be doing next.

Alas, such dreaming leads us nowhere, and we must be content with the body of work that she did leave behind and which, thank God, is a considerable and rich assortment of material indeed. As Gerald Seligman once wrote, the quantity and consistent quality of her recorded output provides some solace from the painful knowledge that her career was cut so tragically short.

A few years ago, it looked as if Elis was destined to become increasingly forgotten by the listening public, both in Brazil and abroad. Most of her original records were out of print, and only a few compilation CDs could be found abroad.

Today, most of her original records have been re-issued on CDs and numerous compilation CDs have been issued by several companies. As well, some important and previously unreleased material has seen the light of day, including the 3-CD set from the O Fino da Bossa TV show, for which we owe thanks to the Velas label and the dedication of Zuza Homem de Mello. More recently, a live recording from an important concert given in the late 70's (while she was seven months pregnant!), was released last year under the title "Elis Regina Ao Vivo" on the Velas label.

It's difficult to say just how much more "previously unreleased" material of Elis' exists or will be released in coming years. There does not seem to be evidence of much being available as far as unreleased studio recordings go, and it strikes me that Elis was not particularly well served by live recordings. For example, the Trem Azul CD, produced from a cassette recording of one of her final concert series, taunts us with the reality that a better, more professional live recording of that and other great shows of hers (for example, the exuberant Falso Brilhante, or the gorgeous Essa Mulher) do not appear to exist.

One of Elis' finest recordings is the one she made with Tom Jobim in Los Angeles, in 1974. It was also one of Tom's best efforts, in my opinion. Of the four main participants at that meeting of musicians - Elis, Tom, Aloysio de Oliveira (the producer) and Cesar Mariano (her husband and arranger at the time), only Cesar is still with us.

Tom and Aloysio both passed away in recent years. Another one who passed away was Elis' first husband, bossa nova lyricist Ronaldo Boscoli. Ronaldo had made efforts before his death, to get a filmed version life, with actors, made by Brazilian television. Each time, Cesar had successfully challenged it in the courts, on the grounds that revealing personal details about Elis' life would be detrimental to the emotional well being of her surviving children. Perhaps one day, when her children are all of legal age, this decision will be overturned, and the story of Elis' life will finally be presented for all to see. Though it ended needlessly and tragically, her life is a wonderful example of dedication, willpower, and persistence, and also provides a wonderful backdrop on the rich and dynamic world of MPB during the 60's, 70's, and early 80's, of which Elis was one of the undisputed standard-bearers.

Elis' two sons, João Marcelo (from her marriage with Boscoli) and Pedro (from her marriage with Mariano) presented a small concert in São Paulo last year, to commemorate Elis' 50th birthday. They also appeared on Brazil's most popular late night talk show (Jo Soares) and performed a rendition of Elis' great ode to youth, "Como Nossos Pais" (Like Our Parents). It was nice to see them having grown up into pleasant, balanced and happy human beings. Both are talented musicians, and one can only hope that like their mother before them, they will, too, enrich the world of MPB.

Elis was a product of her time and, like all true artists, she also transcended it, creating a body of work that is at the same time truly Brazilian, while having a strong universal content. Because emotions go beyond the limitations of language: her music used to make me laugh and cry even before I understood a single word of Portuguese. She remains today as potent a musical interpreter of the passions and longings of the human soul as she was, consistently, during her twenty year recording career. She once said: "I want to suffer everything to the last drop, I want everything to which I am entitled - good and bad things - and not pretend to leave anything for anyone."

A few weeks before she died, Elis was interviewed on Brazilian television, where she said: "I think that I have improved incredibly, that I have shed some of my cobwebs from the moment I decided to face the fact that I am Elis Regina, that I carry a type of load that others don't carry, that I can't pass unnoticed in the crowd. This is heavy to bear. But, though it is heavy, one has to prune some of the jagged edges and at least conserve a sense of humor, and the will to live. Because if not, one finds oneself buying a "22" and shooting a nice bullet in one's head, at 36 years old, three great kids, a career that has hardly reached its mid-point, with the ability to evolve even more. Basically, I am a person who adores living, loves to party. I want my house to be full of friendly people, but I dispense with intimate enemies. The thing is to seek out
the pleasant things in life - flowers, sun, beach..."

Though very much in the public eye all her adult life, there was a very private side to Elis, one which she would share with very few people, if any. Elis once said that she was like the Sphinx, and that no one would ever decipher her. I have tried to do so, over the last few years, to understand the motivation and the complexities of the woman behind the singer. Although I cannot claim to have had more success than anyone else, I do feel that I have acquired a better understanding and appreciation of this complex, gifted, generous and all-too-human person. I firmly believe that her passionate musical legacy remains, for us, the best window that we have on the rich world of this exceptional artist. If you take the time to listen, she will surely reward you.

-- Robert St-Louis, Ottawa, Canada


Chapter 1


"Between the wall and the sword, I am drawn toward the sword"
- Elis Regina

In a bar located in the centre of a city block in a middle-class suburb of São Paulo, Dona (1) Ercy Carvalho Costa tends to the patrons until eight in the evening. Some like to sit at the counter and eat Dona Ercy's lunch, famous in the neighbourhood. Dona Ercy then walks home, half a block away. At seventy-three years old, she lives alone following the death of her husband, Romeu, in December 84. Whenever she talks about her daughter Elis, she cries. With a combination of love and hate that shifts and swells as quickly as in her daughter she tells me, crying and clenching her teeth: "I don't forgive".

Amazing memory from a woman who seems to find, in an instinct for survival, the strength to keep working in the bar and pay the rent. Maybe she drives herself mad in the house with nothing to do. When Dona Ercy wipes the tears that flow from her large eyes, I feel a paralysis of affection: it seems impossible to caress or comfort her. A gaúcho (2) pride permeates this matriarchal rock, the implacable leader of the childhood and adolescence of Elis Regina.

Dona Ercy is the daughter of portuguese immigrants, born-again christians, owners of a grocery store in the southernmost part of Brazil. She met a Brazilian Romeu, a son of Brazilians with indian features, very quiet, with a secure job in a glass factory. They settled in the Navigantes neighbourhood of Porto Alegre (3), in a wooden house with a packed earth yard. The couple's daughter was born cross-eyed and was named Elis after a friend of Dona Ercy's. The middle name Regina came from a legal requirement: back then, the bureaucracy did not allow children to be baptized with a name that could be used for either boys or girls (as is Elis).

So Dona Ercy added the name Regina.

Elis Regina Carvalho Costa (4) was born on March 17, 1945, of a natural childbirth which was attended by a midwife named Conceicão and a nurse named Marlene, in the Benificencia Portugesa hospital of Porto Alegre. It was a Saturday, at ten past three in the afternoon. She was the first daughter, and the first grand-daughter of a large family. Of two large families. She was very strong and healthy, and her mother cannot recall having lost a single night's sleep. Elis would fall asleep punctually at eight in the evening, always in the dark, with all lights out.

Dona Ercy transformed the firstborn of the Carvalho Costas into a cross-eyed little doll. From early on, one could tell that she would not grow up to be tall. Elis always walked very straight, was always well dressed, bows in her hair and eyeglasses from the age of four. As far as her mother can remember, she was an obedient child. She liked to play by herself, and used to walk in the yard with a straw purse, talking to herself.

Until he lost his job in the stockroom of the South-Brazilian Glass Company, Romeu Costa was a sensible man. He liked to read Hemingway and to listen to Chico Alves (5) and Carlos Gardel (6). Before he got married, he had a second job in a talent show and from time to time, out of the blue, dressed himself in Dona Ercy's long nightshirts and came out singing and dancing in the house. It must have been a strong influence in Elis' little head because for years she thought he was in fact a ballet dancer. She was very disappointed later on.

In the Carvalho Costa household, the radio played the music of Brazil from the station Nacional do Rio, and the music of Argentina from Radio Belgrano. On Sundays, when everyone gathered at the house of Dona Ercy's mother Ana, the family used to make a lot of noise at the table. The would sing loudly and laugh. Little Elis sang 'Adios Pampa Mia' (7) from beginning to end, in tune and not missing a word. It was on one of those Sundays that the grandmother Ana said proudly: "Why don't you bring that girl to Guri's Club?"

Guri's Club (Clube do Guri) was a children's show broadcast by Radio Farroupilha every Sunday. Elis was seven years old when she faced her first microphone. It was a shock to the young girl, who was used to talk to herself, to have to face the unfamiliar studio of the radio
station. The program's director, Ary Rego, begged her to do something. Nothing, Elis remained mute. He begged her to sing. Silence on the air. Dona Ercy, already nervous, joined in to put pressure on Elis: "Sing, my child". Nothing. She limited herself to gnawing her fingernails covered with white gloves. She returned home in complete silence, with Dona Ercy in her ears. "What a shame". It would take five years for Elis Regina to build up the courage to try her luck again. When she entered primary school, she already knew how to read, write and count. Proud of
her daughter, Dona Ercy talked to her as to a young lady, without childish phrases or errors in portuguese. And when Elis would come home with a report card full of high marks, she also heard in good portuguese: "It's nothing more than an obligation". In life we must fight. The family wasn't even close to being pampering. In that gaúcho home, one only placed a child on one's lap when he was asleep, and even then. Elis was raised like this, as well as her only brother Rogério, five years younger than her.

In 1952, the family left the Navegantes neighbourhood. As an industrial worker, Romeu was entitled to occupy an apartment in the IAPI village (Institute of Retirement and Pension of Industrial Workers) - building upon building built horizontally in two stories. It was a blue-collar
village, but occupied prime land in Porto Alegre. A nice green space, many plazas and a football field. The ground-floor apartment where they moved in had a three-tiered backyard, a fig tree in front of the door, and faced the football field. Romeu used to say that he wanted a little corner of earth to walk or plant something on, although he never planted anything.

It was while living in this apartment that the family suffered its first serious blow. The South-Brazilian Glass Company closed and Romeu lost his job. Rogério, already five or six years old at the time, remembers those as difficult times. Dona Ercy had to break into the children's
piggybanks. Romeu reached a decision: he would never again be the employee of anyone. He stuck to it. He spent the rest of his life trying his hand at different occupations - he was a commercial representative, a travelling salesman, the owner of a butcher shop, and a merchant.

As time went on, he became increasingly pessimistic. He used to say: "If I were to open a hat factory, the next day people would start to be born headless".

At the age of nine, Elis started taking piano lessons from a teacher named Waleska, a neighbour in the IAPI village. She studied for two years. She learned very quickly, so quickly that she soon found herself facing a dilemma: either buy a piano or stop her studies. Elis Regina started to sing because they could not afford to buy a piano.

Dialogue between the mother and daughter in Porto Alegre in 1956:

- Mother, can you bring me to Guri's Club?
- What are you going to do there?
- Sing.
- Sing?
- Are you crazy? Do you think I have time to waste?

The following Sunday, Dona Ercy took Elis and two of her friends to Radio Farroupilha. But she couldn't manage to get a singing spot that week. She returned the following week and sang. As much as she tried, Dona Ercy could not remember the song that marked Elis' debut. She knew that it was from the repertory of Angela Maria (8) but could not confirm Elis' version of the story, told years later, that she sang Labios de mel (Lips of Honey). She was a sensation on Guri's Club. As a matter of fact, Elis outclassed the crowd favourite.

Five years after the disaster of her first attempt, Elis paid them back in spades. The first of a series. Of a long series.

Singing at Guri's Club became a habit for Elis. From the age of eleven to thirteen and a half, she sang there almost every Sunday. She also became Ary Rego's secretary (9). On the radio, she didn't gnaw her nails with such fury any more, but she did something worse, much worse. She would get nosebleeds. Because of fright. Dona Ercy remembers: one of Elis' Sunday outfits was white with aqua-marine polka-dots, a round blue collar, and a large tie falling to a round skirt. For those moments of Sunday fun, Dona Ercy would spend entire mornings in front of a sewing machine. Backstage, the nervousness was such that alarming quantities of blood flowed out of her nostrils. Her clothing was stained, and Elis entered the stage veiled, twisting her dress in front of her. This was to happen at numerous other times. Always on radio. Only at the moment preceding the entry on stage. Until the end of her life, she was timid and insecure. Elis was insufferable before going onstage. The same insecurity, the same fear of making mistakes, the same phobia of not being perfect.

At thirteen and a half years old, Elis became the female sensation of Porto Alegre. In Brazil's capital, Rio de Janeiro, João Gilberto (10) and the bossa-nova already existed. Young men and women would get together in apartments to sing and make music. The youth did not want to listen any more to what was currently available. They wanted something different, more sophisticated than the samba songs of that time. They wanted a mixture of the coolness of jazz and the heat of Brazilian samba. Many miles from Rio, in quasi-provincial Porto Alegre, Elis Regina sang, without any accent, foreign hits that she learned from listening to records played on the radio.

A little older, and with the success earned at Guri's Club, Elis left Radio Farroupilha. She signed her first professional contract with Rádio Gaucha. She started to sing for a salary of five hundred cruzeiros a month, on the show Mauricio Sobrinho (Mauricio Sirotsky, today the head of South Brazil Communication Network, which contains newspapers as well as radio and television shows).

She could only sign this contract if she accepted the rules of the game as imposed by Dona Ercy: Elis could only sing if she obtained good marks at high school. Much later, already famous, she told of the drama to her friend, José Eduardo Homem de Mello, also known as Zuza: - It was a drama: I had to study and get exceptional marks in order to keep on singing, understand? I had to study for real, or else mother would not let me sing, and I was already starting to like it.

Today, Dona Ercy admits that Elis could have seen her demand as an imposition, but argues in her own favour with a mother's premonition: "Your singing will come to an end one day, my girl".

Dona Ercy thought that Elis could become a teacher, and who knows, maybe even teach at the college. The money that Elis was bringing home was timely but created a family conflict that only worsened as the years went by and her income increased. Not yet fourteen years old, Elis Regina was already earning more than her father. Her brother Rogério remembers how the family life was changed:

- Elis began to take control because she appeared with the money that solved our problems. She supported the family benevolently, and never charged for it.

At that time, that is, because later she would start to charge, Rogério also recalls. And at that time, Dona Ercy did not only have two children. To help one of her brothers, she had assumed responsibility for raising Rosângela, her niece, who was still a baby. Rosângela remained with the Carvalho Costa family until she was fourteen years old.

With her first paycheck, Elis bought three things for her room. A sofa, a carpet and a hi-fi record player. She bought everything second-hand from a rich aunt of the family, aunt Aida, Rogério's godmother and the first to awake the giant sleeping within Elis. One day, when the aunt wanted to interfere in the arrangement of her room, Elis shot back: "It's mine".

Dona Ercy and Elis agreed that she would attend high school at the Education Institute, the traditional high school in Porto Alegre, a public school. It's an imposing building, of neo-classical style, in front of Farroupilha Park, Porto Alegre's largest green area. Virtuous Education Institute. Clean Porto Alegre. Cursed artist profession. One day, Elis returned home and told her mother:

- The teacher called me a bad element.

Dona Ercy was fuming. She went to the Education Institute and demanded to speak to the director. When she was told that she couldn't see her, she became very angry. "Do you know what she told me? That Elis could not study because she was a singer. She called Elis a cunning fox". And she blurted:

- If you think that my daughter has no one to look after her, you're mistaken. And another thing, I can destroy this school. I have radio, the newspaper, everyone on my side.

"I said: 'Look, my dear lady, I don't come here to discuss my private life. I come here to discuss a school problem. I want to know why she is a bad element'. When I turned my back, she said: 'It's getting late'. I became very angry again."

The result of the uproar: the french teacher was transferred and Elis finished her high school in peace. Now in the classical course, she wasn't able to reconcile schooling and work and suffered a breakdown. She had problems in Latin", remembers Dona Ercy. In the middle of that year, Elis transferred, as were the initial intentions of the whole family, to the regular course, which she abandoned after the second year.

Elis was fifteen years old when Dona Ercy allowed her to wear high heels and to paint her nails. It was around the time when she travelled from Porto Alegre to Rio de Janeiro to record her first LP, "Viva a Brotolândia" (Long-live Teenage-land). The repercussions of this record were barely felt locally. I was ten years old at the time, and remember hearing it at an older cousin's house, in São Paulo. It was only a long time after Elis had encountered success at the music festivals that I associated one with the other. As the bossa-nova was surging, how could I care about a repertoire full of soft rock and samba songs, except for the clean voice of the singer?

The first three LPs were like this, and Porto Alegre didn't have anything else to offer to Elis, who was already working at night as crooner in the group Flamboyant, and was on the verge of taking on the world. Decisively, singing was gaining space in the life of the schoolgirl. She never spoke about her boyfriends to Dona Ercy. The first was a man with strong ties to the music world, as were practically all the men she chose during her life. His name was Marcos Amaral, a radio announcer. Her brother Rogério has vague memories of this disc-jockey. He remembers going with his sister to the radio station to wait for him, and then accompanying them to the boarding house where she lived.

Sebastião Schlininger, the second one, was much older than Elis, at least five or six years. He was of german descent, very blond, brizolista (11), a clerk of the Federal Savings Bank. What resulted of this juvenile love affair was a decisive argument: Elis terminated the relationship and left for Rio de Janeiro, but in one of her first interviews after her success, she spoke of a great love that she had left behind in Porto Alegre. She also said that Sebastião himself and his family were opposed to her career as a singer.

In March 1964, after having completed her eighteenth year, Elis and Romeu left definitely for Rio de Janeiro. They were going to try their luck. Elis was counting on the promise of the record producer Armando Pitigliani to sign her up on the Philips label, as soon as she broke the
contract which then linked her with CBS. Elis arrived in Rio with television programs in mind and an effervescence for the cariocan (12) night. In O Beco das Garaffas (13), bossa-nova was singing a Brazil of love and flowers.

Dona Ercy prepared their suitcases. Romeu was leaving with a letter of recommendation of the old PTB (14) in the hope of finding work in Rio de Janeiro. Sweet illusion, because the revolution of '64 (15) destroyed the PTB.

Dona Ercy stayed in Porto Alegre to look after Rogério and Rosângela. She had hopes. She could not expect that a year from then, everything would change. The dream of success would materialize, but her daughter would never be the same. Neither small nor docile.

Although it is easy to understand that Dona Ercy's universe could not comprehend the height of her daughter's flight, and although it is also clear to see that Elis' strict upbringing brought on her stupid crises of insecurity, it still breaks my heart when I hear Dona Ercy say today:

- I lost my daughter at nineteen years old.

~ ~ ~

Copyright Regina Echeverria – Robert St-Louis

~ ~ ~

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Chapter 2


Elis used to say that she arrived in Rio de Janeiro on March 31st 1964. It was certainly not on that date - some days before, actually - but it made for a good story when she said that. Elis in Rio on March 31st, the day of the military coup (1), with the added colourful detail of her father having come with a letter of recommendation from the PTB, the party of the deposed president, João Goulart.

They moved into a tiny furnished apartment on Figueiredo Magalhães Street, in Copacabana. For the first time, Elis was venturing out from under her mother's apron. She quit CBS and contacted Armando Pittigliani of Philips, who kept his promise. Two months later, she signed a contract with TV Rio - she appeared on television and participated in several Noites de Gala (Gala Night) shows, which were famous at the time and one of the station's flagships. Elis really was working very hard. In the end, she had to support the apartment and her father in Rio, as well as the rest of the family in Porto Alegre.

Everything happened very fast for her. Everyone was impressed with Elis. From the studios of TV Rio, she would go right away with the drummer Dom Um Romão to the "Beco", the famous Beco das Garrafas. A narrow street - Rodolfo Dantas - in the middle of the buildings of Copacabana. It was there that one found the bars of the Beco. The fame of that spot began in the late 50's, when Brazil was living under a strongly nationalistic government which favoured progress and economic expansion, the government of Juscelino Kubitschek, the "bossa-nova president" (2).

Brazil did not look at itself as a poor, rachitic peasant anymore, and could now smile at itself. Its soccer team had won the World Cup in 1958, Maria Esther Bueno was first at Wimbledon, Eder Jofre was world bantam weight champion. Living its own democracy, Brazil tore down Belém-Brasília and built a new capital. Show business was bringing forth new formulas. Aloysio de Oliveira tested the so-called "pocket-shows" in the club Au Bon Gourmet and wrote the musical Pobre menina rica (Poor Rich Girl) with Carlos Lyra, Nara Leão and Vinícius de Morais.

In 1962, a bossa-nova group appeared at New-York's famous Carnegie Hall. In 1964, when Elis arrived in Rio, the generation that was raised with Juscelino was at its apogee. Bossa-nova was discarding the themes of love, smiles and flowers in favour of social content. Cinema novo (new cinema): a camera in the hand, an idea in the head. Glaúber Rocha (3), the Centre of Popular Culture (CPC). Rural links, agrarian reform, University of Brasília.

Jânio Quadros, elected with 6 million votes, took office in Brasília. It was the utopia of a democratic Brazil, which discovered the Brazil of Pelé (4), Garrincha, Antônio Maria (5), Stanislaw Ponte Preta, Dolores Duran, Nelson Rodrigues. The National Student Union paraded in the centre of Rio because the Light (6) had increased mass transit fares. Few were aware of this from 64 to 68. No one realized the dimension of the dictatorship that would have to be confronted. No one imagined the explosion that would culminate with Tropicalismo (7), Rei da vela, Terra em transe, Roda-viva (8), with the CCC (commando to hunt communists), with beaten artists, with the fight between MacKenzie and USP in São Paulo (9).

Elis at nineteen years old, facing the Brazil of 1964, was no longer timid nor quiet. Either she would take the reins, or she would be nothing. She started like a wolf in sheep's clothing, then showed her true nature. She faced the Brazil and Rio de Janeiro of 1964, aggressive and
suspicious. She was certain that she was playing in the arena and that the lions could slaughter her at any time. For someone who, up to that time, had sung boleros and versões (10), the coolness of bossa-nova singing did not suit her style very well. In fact, Elis Regina's voice clashed radically with the intimate character of bossa-nova, where the verb "sing" was conjugated with softness, in a feminine gender. Bossa-nova, in the language of jazz, was cool. Elis' voice was hot. Different.

Like water and wine.

"She had a virile voice", in the definition of the journalist Nelson Motta (Nelsinho) who, from a young age, frequented bossa-nova sessions through his "godfather" Ronaldo Bôscoli (11). Nelsinho remembers having seen Elis on television. "She was a woman who was terribly dressed, with long hair, who was singing at the top of a staircase. An exquisite figure, singing to attract attention". In Salvador (12), another attentive spectator, who at the time was writing movie reviews in the press, paid attention to Elis. Caetano Veloso (13) also had a shock when he saw Elis on TV:

- I thought that she was very talented although very rough around the edges. I was impressed. "This woman is incredible", I used to say. But she made some gestures, some dances that were remarkable. And, since I was into bossa-nova - a big fan of João Gilberto, of things cool and of good taste, and of more discrete colours - I found Elis tacky, but full of talent.

At the end of 1964, Elis found a boyfriend. Solano Ribeiro was twenty-five years old - a young politicized producer trying to make his way. He worked on the production of the Bibi Ferreira Show on TV Excelsior, in São Paulo, and was in Rio to sign up artists for a show called the Eduardo Spring Festival of Bossa-Nova.

Solano was Elis' first boyfriend since she had left Porto Alegre. "I was enchanted with the singer and wanted to marry her", Solano tells me today, at 48 years old, having established his own production house, the VPI, and working again on a festival, the Festival of Festivals of TV Globo (14), twenty years after Excelsior (15) and Arrastão (16).

- There was a great political involvement at that time. I was coming from the Arena Theatre and was a radical 25 year old. I wouldn't allow her to sing Tom Jobim (17), so you can see how stupid I was when I arrived. I used to fight a lot with her, and am under the impression that I exercised a great influence on her, because she could be easily influenced. And she became somewhat political.

One day, she sang a Tom Jobim song and I wrote her a letter talking about the influence that this would have on people's heads, that is to say... I didn't admit certain things. Our discussions were always like this. She had an open mind toward cinema, literature. It was her that took me to see Gláuber Rocha's Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol (God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun) at the Metrópole Theatre in São Paulo.

Forty days after having settled in Rio, Elis and Romeu went to get dona Ercy and Rogério. All of them lived in the apartment at Figueirido Magalhães. It was this scenario which started to break up the relationship with Solano, who recalls:

- I spent a carnaval (18) in Rio with Elis, in that apartment. I lived right alongside her family and I lived with her. From then on, things became complicated. Elis' relationship with her parents was wickedly aggressive. She knew how financially dependent they were on her. I was shocked with the aggressiveness with which she dealt with the members of her family, and with her own aggressiveness, which at once enchanted and frightened me. At times I would be sitting and she would come from behind and pow, she would start hitting me on the head with a magazine. With vigour. I don't know, she always wanted to throw something. At times we would go somewhere and she would be all charged up. Suddenly she would go in a corner and fall asleep. She was energy. She was empty.

But it wasn't because of this that Elis and Solano broke up. Elis became pregnant and got an abortion. According to Solano's version, it was then that everything came apart:

- She became pregnant, got an abortion and never told me anything about it. She told me after.

Solano did not like the idea of assuming the role of the "singer's husband". According to him, she occupied all the space, and he couldn't bring himself to live with someone who took up so much space. He also wanted to have his own:

- I also had problems, I was also complex.

The fact is that Elis, after a broken relationship, a first pregnancy and an abortion, was also fighting a battle at home. Romeu, unemployed, made of Elis' career an occupation. He started to look after her salary, take care of the contracts for her shows, welcome people, as if he was a manager. But Elis was starting to realize that she had economic control over her family and was feeling powerful. She demanded of her father - as she did of her brother - that he change and start taking care of his own life. But at the same time she fed this dependency by giving him money, as if she found it impossible to put up with the guilt complex of living a comfortable life while her parents lived in need.

On this subject, Elis said years later: "I know that my mother couldn't tolerate to see me come home at three in the morning, tired, with no regular meals, etc. I didn't enjoy being constantly under observation, and neither did she, gravitating around me. Of course, all kinds of
problems related to oppressive affection started".

But on top of the fighting at home, Elis had other problems in the cariocan nights. From an initial appearance at the Little Club bar, she went on to be managed by the boastful pair of that time, Luís Carlos Mieli and Ronaldo Bôscoli. Both of them worked exclusively for the Midas Agency, the office of Abrahão Medina, known as the King of Voice because of a chain of appliance stores.

But they couldn't resist the call of the Beco das Garaffas. They went there to drink cuba-libre (19) and worked there almost hidden in the production of pocket-shows for the Beco. According to Ronaldo Bôscoli, the Beco was a mess. It didn't even have spotlights. Light effects were done with cardboard tubes. The pairs' slogan, at that time, was: "give us a room and we'll give you a show".

Moreover, Mieli and Bôscoli were familiar with super-productions like Dreams of Broadway. But they had to put on shows in tiny spaces. When Mieli and Bôscoli met Elis one Saturday night
for her first rehearsal, she was in a bad mood. Maybe thinking a bit too much about having to remain at the disposal of the directors' schedules. When Ronaldo Bôscoli met Elis Regina, she was in love with Edu Lobo (20), and together with him would later cause a great turnaround in popular music. He has a nice memory:

- She was getting on the telephone every hour, and kept asking me: can I talk on the phone for a minute, director? And she was talking to Edu.

It was at the Beco that Elis met Lennie Dale (21) and with him, learned to use her body more when she sang. That business of laia-ladaia-sabatana-ave-maria (22) was certainly her creation, but motivated by the lessons of the american dancer. This was the motive of her first disagreement with Ronaldo Bôscoli. He found that swimming motion a little ridiculous. He went to talk to Mieli about it, who responded with a declaration that became legendary:

- Never mind, Bôscoli, it's her way of burying bossa-nova for good.

Elis' show at Bottles Bar (23), directed by Mieli and Bôscoli, featured the participation of the group Dom Um Romão, the dancer Marly Tavares and the tambourim-player Gaguinho. It was a success.

There are many versions of the story of what happened after that. Elis began to miss going to some of the shows at the Beco. And always on Saturdays. According to Ronaldo Bôscoli, she was forced by Romeu to do shows on the side in order to earn more money. I find it difficult to believe that Elis Regina could be forced to do anything, that she would do something against her will. But there is a basis for it. According to Elis, those shows did take place, but she was only absent from the Beco once. Bôscoli counters: "There were many times". Romeu always gave the excuse that Elis was sick.

The third time she missed going to the Beco, Bôscoli spoke to her:

- Elis was already talking: "Say what you want to say!" And I said that this wasn't a place of total confusion, that it wasn't a whorehouse and that I demanded an explanation. She insisted on the story that she was stressed-out and tired. I said that I knew about shows which she was giving in other places at the same time. And the discussion continued until she started doing a Joan-of-Arc imitation, crying and saying that she was being unfairly accused.

The fact is that Elis was keeping her eye on São Paulo. More precisely, on the new movement stimulated by university students of the time: to bring popular music into the theatres.

Do live shows with new people. Horácio Berlink, Eduardo Muylaert, Antônio Carlos Calil, João Evangelista Leão organized the first one, which took place in the August 11 Academic Centre of the Law Faculty of São Paulo, at the Paramount Theatre. The name of the show: The Best of Bossa.

Elis Regina was invited to participate in the second show of the series, on August 31st 1964, the show Good Bossa. It was an enormous success, so much that the journalist Walter Silva, host of the famous program O Pick-up do Pica-Pau, decided to lease the Paramount Theatre and do there more or less what Solano Ribeiro was doing on the little stage of the Opinião Theatre.

Walter Silva was thinking of popular music shows for large audiences, and a large audience at that time meant the Paramount Theatre, with two thousand seats. Elis was already attracted by the São Paulo salaries and was earning more per show than she would earn in a month at the Beco. The choice was evident.

But before abandoning the Beco das Garrafas, and burying it in the process, Elis picked a fight with Ronaldo Bôscoli, because he had ordered that a black line be painted above her name on the poster beside the door at Bottles. "I asked that the line be painted in order that people could see her name underneath".

That was it. They became mortal enemies from that moment on.

In São Paulo, Walter Silva and Solano Ribeiro presented Elis to Marcos Lázaro, an up-andcoming Argentine impresario. In February 1965, she was already living in São Paulo. She went there alone and stayed in Marcos Lázaro's house, a little four-room apartment on Rio Branco Avenue, which crossed Ipiranga Avenue, in the centre of São Paulo. The Lázaro family - Elisa and two sons, put up Elis on the living room sofa, where a little privacy at night was provided by a makeshift curtain in the middle of the room. Dona Ercy, Romeu and Rogério remained in Rio, and
later returned to Porto Alegre.

Elis Regina, humble guest of the Lázaro family, managed by the patriarch. She was his first exclusive brazilian artist - he normally managed circus artists and nightclub singers. In exchange for 20% of the artists' fees, Marcus Lázaro started to grow. Elis, who left and returned home escorted by the impresario, played cards on her nights off. "I remember that sometimes she played cards loudly, ran to the window and started to sing and sing", Eliza Lázaro told me.

Shortly after arriving in São Paulo, Elis declared to journalists that she had been treated unfairly in Rio de Janeiro. She claimed to have been discriminated against for being gauchá and that she had been involved in a real war at the Beco das Garrafas. Bôscoli denies this version, of course, but it's possible that Elis had really felt this way. A war. She found it necessary to create stories in which she portrayed herself as the heroine, and was motivated by competition. In her own way of singing, she demonstrated athletic manners, and she would get deeply involved in disputes between musicians, entering into the fray with sharpened teeth and nails, ready to take the first bite.

Elis was like this when she was asked by her ex-boyfriend Solano Ribeiro to interpret two songs at the First Festival of Brazilian Popular Music, put on by TV Excelsior. This festival coincided with the decline of TV Record, which beefed up its programming with foreign artists. TV Record contracted and presented names like Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr., Dizzie Gillespie, Rita Pavone, Chubby Checker, Brenda Lee. In the midst of a financial crisis, it was impossible to maintain the same level. In spite of this, TV Excelsior entered with its music festival. Elis entered this festival on her guard. She didn't trust the producer Solano Ribeiro, after everything that had happened while they had been together. Of the two songs that she received - Por um amor maior (For a better love) by Francis Hime and Ruy Guerra, and Arrastão (Trawling net) by Edu Lobo and Vinícius de Morais, Solano remembers that she preferred the former. When that song was disqualified, she thought that someone was pulling a dirty move, more specifically, that Solano Ribeiro was up to dirty tricks.

"She didn't even look at me, it was an exquisite climate".

According to the recollections of this important festival's producer, however, the story wasn't quite like that. There was a plot articulated by the impresario Lívio Rangan, now deceased, then the head of Rhodia. Solano recalls:

- Rangan wanted the winning song to be the one written by Vinhas and Bôscoli, and defended by Simonal (24). He argued that if this song didn't win, no other winner would work on his show. Moreover, he bribed the jury with presents. And part of the jury were not politicized, were alienated, and resented songs that included social messages. Eumir Deodato (25) was one of those. It was a delicate moment. With the addition of the coup of 1964, people wanted an outlet. The censorship. All of this contributed to Arrastão almost losing.

But it didn't lose, according to Solano, because he himself promoted a counter-attack for the jury, with the help of Walter Silva in the Folha de São Paulo (26). In the end, Elis won, Arrastão won, and for whoever remembers, it was an unforgettable moment on Brazilian television.

Elis Regina gave a formal farewell to bossa-nova. A cycle was completed by the athletic singing style with which she defended the song. National success. Elis Regina wins Excelsior's First Festival of Popular Music.

Olha a arrastão entrando num mar sem fim / É, meu irmão, me traz Iemanjá pra mim (I see a trawling net entering an endless sea / And, my brother, it brings Iemanjá (27) for me). Elis, black wig, black tube dress, open arms like the Cristo Redentor (28). Arms rotating like a helicopter, and a voice released with force, hunger, and the will to win. The winner of the competition. Gold medal. The good girl finds success. Facing backwards, tears in her eyes. For me ... I see the trawling net ... Tears and a smile consecrated on that face.

Too much for a poor heart.

~ ~ ~

Copyright Regina Echeverria – Robert St-Louis

~ ~ ~

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Chapter 3


"Now I know very well what it's like for a great artist to assume the importance of an entire era onto his person. I know about the torment, the profound duality that forms within the famous and public person, who is given a certain amount of power. And the inner conflict between the desire to be important and the desire to be happy."
- Gilberto Gil

In April 1965, Elis was on the cover of magazines. She went up on stage at the Astória Theatre, in Rio, to receive the prize of best interpreter of the First Popular Music Festival (1), interpreting the song that also won the first prize. It was glory. Finally, eight years after having sung for the first time on Guri's Club, six years after having signed her first professional contract, three years after her first LP, Elis arrived where she had wanted to be. Her biggest desire and daydream while in Porto Alegre was to be on the cover of a magazine. This signified celebrity, the proof of recognition, and pure pleasure. Secret dream hidden by the wide-open laughter. Vinícius de Morais could not support so much vibration and, wisely, nicknamed her "Pimentinha" (little pepper).

Forty-eight hours after having received the prize, Elis was already in São Paulo to start a show with the composer and guitarist Baden Powell. But instead of him, the samba-singer Jair Rodrigues showed up, an anti-bossa-nova singer as well, who was fresh from a big national success: deixem que digam, que pensem, que falem... (let them say, think, tell...). Elis and Jair had only one rehearsal together, a few hours before the premiere. The Paramount Theatre, already rented by Walter Silva, who produced this show, was starting to become the temple of MPB (2) in São Paulo. When TV Record started its musicals, it used a smaller theatre, the Record Theatre on Consolacão Street. Later, TV Record also rented the Paramount Theatre and transformed it into the Record-Central Theatre. The 2,000 seats of the Paramount were not enough for the overcrowded public which attended the three shows of Elis, Jair, and the Jongo Trio. A singing duo was born which lasted almost three years and produced three live LPs. The first of the series, "Dois na Bossa" (Two in Bossa), came from this first show produced by Walter Silva.

After the premiere, Elis and Jair received the Roquete Pinto (3), a traditional trophy presented by TV Record to the year's best artists. Backstage, Marcos Lázaro, enchanted with his star, was approached by Paulinho Machado de Carvalho (4): "I need to talk to you". At that time, impresarios were not well looked upon by TV stations. In fact, they were prevented from coming in the door. Excelsior and Record did not allow impresarios to enter their premises without authorization.

Marcos Lázaro was involved in advanced negotiations with TV Tupi, who wanted Elis to replace Wilson Simonal on the show Spot Light, directed by Abelardo Figueiredo. Tupi was offering a fabulous sum of money for that time: BR$ 2,800,000 cruzeiros (5). Paulinho Machado de Carvalho asked Manoel Carlos, a trusted colleague, to talk to Marcos Lázaro and try to pull him away from Tupi. In that conversation, Marcos Lázaro told Manoel Carlos that everything was practically settled with Cassiano Gabus Mendes, of Tupi. Manoel Carlos insisted and Marcos played a hand: "Of course, I told him that Elis would be making more at Tupi than what they had in fact offered".

But at that moment, a complication arose with Tupi. One of the directors of the joint ownership of Associated Newspapers and Broadcasters, which administered Tupi, said that a female singer could not earn that kind of money. The main reason was that, with this salary, Elis would earn more at the end of the month than he, the director. In light of this, Marcos Lázaro felt released and immediately linked up with Record (6) for an even more fabulous contract: six million cruzeiros a month . It was the highest salary ever paid to a brazilian TV artist. Up to that time, the highest earner at Record had been Agostinho de Santos, earning 800,000 cruzeiros a month.

With Elis' first paycheck from Record, Marcos Lázaro bought her an apartment in the same building where he lived, on Rio Branco Avenue. As a matter of fact, Elis' salary in 1965 was enough to buy an apartment each month. Crazy. In nine months, her salary had gone from thirty thousand at TV Rio to six million at Record. And she was barely twenty years old.

According to what Marcos Lázaro told me, purchasing this apartment was the only investment that he did in her name, in the ten years that he spent as her impresario. After that deal, she demanded that he give her all her money, period.

Elis was dazzled. She used to tell me that at times, she would feel like Cinderella who had put on the right shoe, thanks to a fairy godmother, TV Record. Elis went crazy with all that money. She would go out and buy things that she had always wanted, like an absurd quantity of shoes with matching handbags (she told me seventeen, but there are some who say she had a hundred), a great variety of wigs, teddy bears, jewelry, outfits and more outfits. She used to go shopping with Elisa Lázaro, Marcos' wife. Elisa brought Elis to Madame Boriska's house, a well-known São Paulo stylist in the 1960's. Her first attempt at merchandising with Elis was a fiasco. Elisa recalls:

- I said that Madame Boriska could offer clothes for Elis to wear on the TV show in exchange for a credit. Do you know what she told me? "Do you think I'm going to wear borrowed clothes?"

Intoxicated with the amount of money that gushed from her throat, and tired of advice of the type: "My girl, you should keep money in the bank, buy dollars, real estate, don't waste...",

Elis gave up on Elisa's company for shopping:

- We were at a jewellery store once, and the salesman asked: "Do you want jewelry for investment purposes or to adorn yourself?" She didn't know, she was only a young girl. He talked her into buying a diamond, a solitary, because you know that people who buy jewellery are buying money. She had earrings and necklaces. We would see her wear them once and then never see them again. At that time, she gave many presents.

Record took advantage of the name (O Fino da Bossa - The Best Of Bossa) and the formula of the Paramount shows to start a show on May 17, 1965 headed up by Elis Regina. It was recorded on Mondays at the Record Theatre on Consolação Street, and was a show especially made for television - which was innovative for TV, for music, and for that time. Practically all popular music artists of that time appeared on O Fino da Bossa. Elis was the representative of a talented generation, the first immediately following bossa-nova, occupying space in a communication vehicle of national scope. It was also a vehicle which featured protest songs against the military regime which had asserted itself a year before. Elis had already felt political vibes from Solano Ribeiro, and from contacts with thinking students of that time, like João Evangelista Leão, who received Elis in his house for long conversations, to listen to records and to define the repertoire of the show.

Paulo Machado de Carvalho's station had received Elis Regina with open arms. It was a family-run station. Paulinho, the oldest son, took care of the administrative part. Elis liked to confess herself to him, as they had a father-daughter relationship. The station's creative nucleus, named the A Team - Manoel Carlos, Tuta, Nilton Travesso, Raul Duarte - had to create programs for auditoriums because a violent fire had destroyed their studios, equipment and archives. Within this team, the production of O Fino was headed up by the very dedicated Nilton Travesso, until then a TV man.

"At that time, Elis would get to the stage at one o'clock in the afternoon and would practice three or four arrangements to sing that night with the Zimbo Trio (7)", Nilton Travesso told me. "No one else did that. She was active, argumentative, discussed things with me and with other people, with the Zimbo Trio. She took things seriously and never argued on the job. She seemed to be providing a service to the people who went to the theatre."

The only thing that greatly bothered Elis the star was the presence of her father at certain rehearsals. Nilson Travessa recalls:

- He would come to look for money and Elis would become very upset. She became nervous, ebellious, and suddenly people would know that she was upset, because she was never normally like this. She thought that she had been used and abused.

When Elis entered the Record Theatre to record the first O Fino, she wanted to know right away who was going to look after the sound. It was José Eduardo Homem de Mello, nicknamed Zuza, who had a double function at the station: he travelled to foreign countries to sign international attractions, and he was also the main sound technician. Zuza told Elis that he was a bass-player, and they got along right away. He recalls:

- She wasn't very nervous, no, but she didn't know that the whole show would be recorded that night. There was commotion and great confusion. It was Cyro Monteiro who brought order in the place. I was going crazy with so many microphones, but Elis didn't make a single mistake.

Elis' fan-club started to form: many people arrived at the theatre's ticket office at four, five in the morning. At the artists' exit door, a confusion of screams and autographs. Many young girls from that time know each other up to this day, and several are part of the group "Elis em Movimento" (Elis on the move). Sonia Dorothy Gomes attended practically all the shows and events of Elis' career. Her collection of clippings and photographs is fantastic. She began to infiltrate the backstage areas. After a while, Elis even began to receive her. Dorothy refused to talk with me if I were to classify her as a fan. At the time of O Fino, Dorothy watched the rivalry between Elis and the singer Cláudia, a novice brought to the show by a musician in the orchestra. Right away, people began to compare the two. An animosity quickly developed.

Luís Loy, keyboardist of the famous Luís Loy Quintet, who accompanied Elis on O Fino and went on various concert tours with her, told me that Elis started to get annoyed at all the comments and comparisons. Many people said that Cláudia was better. Sonia Dorothy was witness to an incident: in a discussion on stage, Cláudia pushed Elis, who lost her balance and almost fell into the pit. Luís Loy told me that Elis went to see Paulinho Machado de Carvalho to demand that Cláudia not appear on her show. Paulinho said that he could not remember this story and would not confirm it. The fact is that Cláudia went to Rio de Janeiro, into the hands of Ronaldo Bôscoli, who prepared a show for her titled Quem tem medo de Elis Regina (Who's Afraid of Elis Regina)?

There was another disagreement, musical this time, with the Zimbo Trio. At the beginning, Elis and the Zimbo Trio were almost one. One complemented the other. With Zimbo (Luís Chaves, Amilton Godoy, and Rubinho), Elis discovered another musical universe: they were all nightclub musicians, and good ones at that, who adored jazz and improvisation. Normally, they would be the opening act for O Fino: they would play two or three numbers and warm up the audience.

Musicians with strong personalities, they would use those moments to show what they were capable of. Elis didn't like it when they ended their set on a climax, thereby spoiling her entrance.

Besides, she began to consider the Zimbo Trio (7) as being her band. This wasn't what the three musicians thought or wanted, however. The bassist Luís Chaves already knew Elis from the show Primeira Audição (First Audition), when the two of them had split the set, and he had done some arrangements on her first LP with Philips. He recalls:

- She wanted her band to be well behaved. She thought very much like a musician. She realized that she knew less about music than we did, but we also realized that she knew what she wanted. She wasn't only a soloist, she was also a musician in the group.

It was something in common with the professional colleague Gal Costa, who would say years later:

"I met Elis in Salvador, when she went there to do a show. We went out together. I was going to sing in a music festival and she went with me.

"The first time that I did O Fino da Bossa, there was no dressing room for me and she invited me to share hers. I know that Elis was a very difficult person, but she always behaved in a very caring way with me. At the time of Fantasia, when the press violently criticized the show, she called me. She always had a special thing with me. She sent me postcards.

"I went to see Falso Brilhante and afterward she sent me a little note. She was calling me seeking work for the musicians. And when I did that special for Globo, I said to Danilo Filho: 'I'm going to invite Elis'. He said: 'Come on! Elis won't come'. And I: 'But of course she will come'. We called her in Los Angeles. She answered: 'Of course I'll come, tomorrow'. And she came. When we sang together, she wouldn't look me in the eyes. I said: 'Elis, look at me, I want to see you'. She: 'I am cross-eyed, bu're going to laugh at my eyes'. I said: 'Come on! I want to see your face, your eyes, I want to share this with you'. And she: 'No, I am cross-eyed, you're going to laugh. I have a problem because I'm crosseyed'.

But she was happy.

"At times I found her a little cold as a singer. It's funny, because Elis could manage to cry and sing, and I am unable to. When I start to cry, my voice shakes right away. When I say cold, I mean very technical.

"As a singer, she was the best. She spoke the words, on top of the notes, very sophisticated in the way she emitted the notes. I admired her a great deal. She had a fantastic musicality. Like me, she thought of herself as one of the musicians in the orchestra".

A certain composer, recently-arrived from Bahia (8), then entered Elis Regina's life. Hired as administrator at Gessy-Lever (9), Gilberto Gil (10) appeared at Elis' apartment on Rio Branco Avenue dressed in a suit and tie, 007 briefcase in hand. Elis thought he looked funny. But she listened to Louvação (Praise), Lunik 9 and many others. Moreover, she greatly impressed the young composer:

- For me, Elis was the symbol of everything, of newness itself. She even legitimized my own ambitions. I thought that our time had arrived. She was different from all other singers, all her gestures, her voice, her way of singing, her repertoire. And I became immediately oppressed the first time I saw her. All those artists oppress me. With Maria Bethânia (11) I have the same sensation.

They are all my peers, but I feel oppressed. But this is a deformation of my own personality, a certain envy, a difficulty. And I had this very much with her. I saw her in her house, then, relaxed, the thing was very palpable. I was tense. I was crazy about her. She didn't know anything about it, although maybe she suspected it, because I was very endearing with her. My career was launched by her, even though Gal (12) had been the first to record my music, but Elis made it a point to always include some of my songs on her records. Elis treated me with great arrogance, but with great calm. This is because I was gentle and sweetened everything, because I am generally like this with almost everyone, and with her, I was inspired by the oppression that I felt, by everything that she gave me, a passionate thing also. I was there, servile and fragile, and then she took advantage of this to inject her arrogance. But I had the impression that she was like this with artists in general, that she had to be like this with them, important musicians for her, important colleagues.

She must have had a relation where the feeling of competition dominated everything. This isn't something that I can infer from my personal relation with her, I think it's a generic thing. But in time this became more designed, like an architecture, a constructed thing. It became more like an armoured model for her.

Elis found a way to sophisticate her arrogance, to stereotype it. She became more stereotyped and sophisticated, by the conversation subjects she chose, the kind of humour she chose to use, the spicy character of her personality, which was very much at the forefront. I have the impression that she had different criteria for different people. She became very civilized. She acquired a certain finesse, and dreamed of becoming more polished. And together with this, she solidified the crust of difficulty. She became more difficult. At the time of Tropicalismo, it was a scene. She was very resentful, I think. She must have become resentful, with a character that was always surprising, unpredictable. At that time, we seldom saw each other.

"I was with her during the famous 'march against electric guitars', which left the Paramount Theatre and wound up at the São Francisco plaza. It wasn't really against electric guitars. In reality, it was a general resentment of the people that was manifesting itself, a mixture of xenophobia and nationalism: let's go, on behalf of brazilian music. This march was against many things, but the rhetoric of the slogans was against foreign music, which was alienating music. It was somewhat like a Geraldo Vandré thing (13). I don't know for sure, but I was on the side of solidarity with the artists. At the bottom I was very naive on one hand, and I also resisted criticizing them, to understand what criticism I should give to all that. I didn't do it. I abstained from delving into my degree of requirement, and began to think that everything was well, that there was something fair in all the things that they wanted. Besides, that march was something partly manipulated by the fandom of that time, invented by Jacaré, by Telé. It was a bit like fans grouping at the stage door.

Because one must realize that the Record Theatre, at that time, was a permanent fixture. Every day of the week there were musicals, and all of these defended sectors, tendencies.

"At the time of Domingo No Parque (14) (Sunday in the Park), Elis wasn't talking to me. During those festivals, there were interviews backstage and everyone went there to listen. Elis was interpreting O Cantador (15) (The Folk Singer), and when she was interviewed, she said: 'Gil is a deteriorating composer, an artist that is destroying himself'. I thought this meant that she thought that we were through. I was hurt. But at that time it was a shock for everyone, magnetized by her, a whole circle that she magnetized, thus the relations were shaken between us.

"Our encounters became very rare. Sporadic. We would always meet each other after a disturbed relationship. During the whole thing there were three or four shaky periods. The first was during tropicalismo (16). After that we started to see each other again, when she recorded Oriente (Orient) and Doente Morena (Sick Brunette) (17). She never called me on the telephone. She always sent a message: Elis wants to talk to you. She must have noticed that I was crazy about her. I became curious again when she sang Oriente, because she sang a sentence, a mistaken word in the song which I later pointed out to her. I didn't manage to talk to her about it, but she found out.

It's the part that goes: 'the spider lives from what it weaves'. Elis recorded: 'I doubt what the spider weaves'. She must have picked up the recording and not understood the lyrics. When I heard it, I was astounded by this, such a mistake was different and funny, like doubting something. What a strange thing that Elis wouldn't know the saying, 'the spider lives from what it weaves'. And I remember that she didn't like the fact that I had said something about it.

"After a year or two, she established contact again and I sent her O Compositor Me Disse (The Composer Told Me). That song was made for her. It was something that I wanted to say because of the tension that I perceived in records of that period. I wanted to send a message with the song. It was a sort of therapy which said to relax, as if she had come to me to put a message in it. It was a period when I spent a lot of time at home, very macrobiotic, Preta was born, and I was living in Rio, very withdrawn, in a cave. It was around that time that I did Copo Vazio (Empty Glass) for Chico (Buarque) and Barato Total (What A Gas!) for Gal Costa.

My head was in a world of relationship between unity and duality. I composed O Compositor Me Disse for Elis, without guitar, just voice. And when the recording arrived, it seemed to me that she had assumed an attitude completely opposed to what I had thought would be conveyed. It was as if I had given her a massage and her muscles had become even more tense, and in the end, she had become like a rock.

When I listened to it I had this feeling. I commented on this to someone, and everything becomes public. It was a time when Elis had troubled relationships with everyone. She had difficulty with Tom (Jobim), after the record they made together in America (18). She was having troubles with Milton (Nascimento) (19). No matter where you went, there were signs of little problems with Elis.

"Our last thing together was another song. Once again, we didn't talk to each other. I had done Rebento (Sprout) and she hadn't recorded it. She sent me a message: 'I didn't hear the harmony'. She only recorded Rebento after I had recorded it. Then, in Se Eu Quiser Falar Com Deus (If I wanted to talk to God), there was a problem of a different order.

It's incredible, my life with Elis was an impressive thing. Without wanting it to be. I was going to record this song and she asked me for a song for her record. I sent her Palco (Stage), which she didn't manage to record. I was in the studio when she called me and said: 'I recorded Se Eu Quiser Falar Com Deus and I'm going to release it'. I said: 'But I am releasing a single with that song. What are we going to do?' That's how this situation happened. She recorded the song but never put it on her record (20). Odeon released it after her death. My publisher told her that it is common practice when someone records something that exclusivity be retained for a period of sixty days.

"Now I know very well what it's like for a great artist to assume the importance of an entire era onto his person. I know about the torment, the profound duality that forms within the famous and public person, who is given a certain amount of power. And the inner conflict between the desire to be important and the desire to be happy.

"Elis would change her mind every five minutes. But she always had an idea - it wasn't like she would have an idea right now and not have any five minutes from now. She had an idea now and another one later. She was always clearly on one side. It was as if she made it a point of always being only on one side. She had a bit of manichaeism (21).

Whenever she adopted an opposite point of view, she would treat with irony the point of view which she had held previously. It was thus, she saw things in such and such a way and nothing else eexisted. Everything on the other side was absurd. But, all of a sudden, she would move to the other side. It's the so-called verbal unconscious. A complicated thing. Especially to be something that is never defeated by doubt, or defeats doubt itself. Elis identified this with frankness, I don't know. But this owed much to her upbringing. She was raised with something always arriving and saying: memorize, read this or that. And she read all that. She didn't resign herself to doubt. Nothing ntered, nothing sank deep, a kind of empty resignation. Who knows, I see it that way, but we are speculating about her apparent personality, this level of her verbal conscience."

The show O Fino da Bossa had unbeatable audience support, until Elis decided to take a vacation. She spent two months visiting Europe, which proved fatal for her show. Elis' departure from the command of O Fino coincided with the rise of the show Jovem Guarda (Young Guard) and of Roberto Carlos (22). Paulinho Machado de Carvalho did not want Elis to go travelling. He believed in the old theory of TV: when someone isn't on, people forget. Wanting to bring new life into the program, Record suggested that Elis get new producers. And why not Mieli and Bôscoli? Elis got mad, but Paulinho somehow convinced her and she agreed to see Mieli only. From São Paulo, she notified her partner: everything was cleared up.

It was a more serious encounter than one could imagine. At the end of 1967, Elis Regina and Ronaldo Bôscoli surprised the artistic world with a bomb: they were going to be married. In the December 12, 1967 edition of Jornal da Tarde (23) (Evening Paper), an unsigned article titled "A composer carries away Elis Regina" describes the civil marriage of Elis and Bôscoli as follows:

"The civil marriage of Elis Regina with Ronaldo Bôscoli was very simple and lasted four minutes according to the round clock on the wall. What lasted longer was the impatience of the bride and groom, because a member of the groom's wedding party, Paulo Machado de Carvalho (Son) and his wife, only arrived at five thirty. The judge was already there, and the wedding had been scheduled for four thirty. The maid of honour, fashion model Vera Barreto Leite, didn't show up because she had to do a film session. A few hours before the wedding, she was replaced by Wanda Sá.

"Elis and Bôscoli were married among daisies. On top of the table where they signed the wedding registry, there was a vase of artificial daisies. "When Elis signed the book, her eyes were full of tears. She was apparently calm. Moments before, she had taken a Vagostesil.

"It was seventeen minutes after five."

"It had stopped raining. Dona Glória, the cook, was radiant. In the morning, she had asked the youngest of the house, Vicente, to draw a sun in the backyard, to scare away the rain that had been falling since the previous evening. Elis' mother was the only one who cried when she kissed her son-in-law, who said in her ear: 'Why are you crying, mother? We're here'.

"A glass of champagne toasted the event. Elis went to bed at four in the morning. After the show in the Golden Room, the new couple 'stretched their legs' at the Sucata club. "

- "No one has seen a couple say goodbye together to the bachelor life - commented the singer, when she was in her house getting ready for the ceremony. "She didn't sleep well - 'I had a very heavy dream' -, waking up at eight o'clock. She noticed that it was still early, and napped a little longer. One hour later, Elis went to the hairdresser Jambert, who is in Ipanema. Her hair was done by Silvinho.

She only returned home at four o'clock. She barely ate a sandwich, starting to feel sick in the beauty salon. Elis was in long trousers.

"Bôscoli arrived at his house at noon. He was already prepared for the wedding, which would only take place four and a half hours later. He was wearing a dark striped suit, slightly pink shirt with white cuffs and collar. Black tie, socks and shoes. "The house was already full of journalists. Elis arrived in a hurry - she didn't greet anyone - and started picking on Boboca, the dog that was in the middle of the room.

"- Do you see? She is right here - commented Bôscoli.

"Various reporters were amazed with the interview that Bôscoli gave two hours before the wedding. One of the first things he said was that he was getting married with legal separation of estate. He said that Elis was putting a deposit of sixty-five millions on the house, and that he would be paying the rest in instalment payments. He classified himself as 'an ex-adventurer of love' who only decided to marry Elis 'because of all the elements that composed her'.

"Many times, Bôscoli made it a point of saying that Elis was a 'little bourgeois'. He revealed that he influenced her hairdos and clothing. "Bôscoli eulogized his bride's intelligence.

"- I am not rich, but I feel good. She earns fifteen million a month and I earn two and a half. The commonplace in the house will be paid by me, the luxurious by her. I want to be Ronaldo Bôscoli, and not the husband of Elis Regina."

"Bôscoli also said that he was marrying for love, because he had often had opportunities to marry for money but had never wanted to.

"Bôscoli spoke of his plans with Elis. They will spend a three day honeymoon in Correias (24) and, on Sunday, will return to Rio to attend the game between Fluminense and Botafogo (25). Both are fans of Fluminense. On the 15th, she will be in São Paulo, to inaugurate the Blow-up bar. On the 20th, she will do a new show for Record, Elis Especial.

"There were fifteen minutes left before the wedding. Elis was locked up in her room, tidying up. Three hours before, the spring mattress had arrived, which cost three hundred and twenty-six cruzeiros and fifty centavos, according to bill 3511, emitted for Mrs. Elis Regina Bôscoli. Dona Laura, the wife of Abelardo Figueiredo, helped Elis, mainly by calming her.

"Time is passing, and Elis prefers not to put on fake eyelashes because she thinks she will probably cry. Her lips tremble and she has difficulty putting on her makeup. She comments on the absence of her brother Rogério, who couldn't leave Rio Grande do Sul because he was writing exams.

"- But he will be there for the religious ceremony (26).

"And she hums:

"- 'That old one is mine, that old one is mine...' - paraphrasing a song by Sérgio Ricardo. 'Old one' is Bôscoli's nickname.

"It was twenty after four. Dona Laura brought a green glass of ice water and Elis took three sips, after having swallowed a pill.

"Some presents had arrived. The first was from Paulinho Machado - a silver tableware. Elis' mother-in-law sent soapstone drinking glasses from Ouro Preto. Denner sent two candelabrums.

"Hebe Camargo sent a gold-covered silver cup and a card that toasted the couple's wedding and their 'silver anniversary'.

"There were more journalists than relatives and friends in Elis and Bôscoli's 'white house'. The bride and groom were increasingly nervous because neither the judge nor some members of the wedding party had arrived. It was already past four thirty. The engaged couple's mothers were talking, seated on a leather sofa. Dona Ângela, Bôscoli's mother, complained that the maid had spoiled the clothing for the reception. Elis and Bôscoli were posing for the photographers and TV cameramen.

"It was five minutes to five."

"A green Ford, licence plate 43741, arrived on the hill where the couple resided. A gentleman in glasses got out, from the right side, a black cape in his hand. From the other door, a large man came out, with books under his arm.

" - Are you the judge? - shouted Elis.

"The friends were already singing 'the hour is here, the hour is here'. The judge climbed the stairs of the couple's white house, there on Niemeyer Avenue, and informed the reporters: 'Ciro de Luna Dias, from the 1st Zone of the Registry Office'. And he presented the clerk who, when he shook Elis' hand, said he was her fan.

" 'Nice place. I like it', was the judge's first comment, looking at some of the rooms in the house. Less than two years before, Dr. Luna Dias had officiated at the wedding of Eva Tudor (27), as well as Bôscoli's sister.

"Elis and Bôscoli were impatient. Some members of the wedding party still hadn't arrived. Paulo Garcez and Wanda Sá, Bôscoli's wedding party, were already there. Missing were Paulinho Machado de Carvalho, Marcos Lázaro and their wives. They arrived later. Elis asked Luis Eça to prepare himself to substitute for 'Dr. Paulinho'.

"It was two minutes into the ceremony when the clerk Faro realized that he wasn't wearing the black robe. He put it on quickly, nervously, casting a guilty look toward the judge, who said nothing.

"The judge said a few words. He referred to the marriage of Bôscoli's sister and wished happiness to the couple.

"- It's with great pleasure that I perform this wedding ceremony. Your personality, dona Elis, brings youthfulness and happiness to this house - concluded the judge, before asking Bôscoli if he accepted Elis as his wife.

"When the wedding party began to sign the book, Elis and Bôscoli joked:

"- I know that signature.

"- I pay the bills - answered Paulinho Machado.

"Some reporters asked the judge what was the wedding's number:

"- 1241. It isn't to play the lottery, eh?

"- Finally, us - said Bôscoli embracing Paulinho.

"A cup of champagne was served. This completed the ceremony.

"It was nineteen after five."

In the following day's edition of the Jornal da Tarde, was a description of the ceremonial supper. It is worth transcribing because of the richness of detail and the perfect way in which the era was reconstructed by the reporter, anonymous in this coverage.

"In the large three-story white house on Niemeyer Avenue, there were a hundred and twenty guests at the reception. It was a black-tie affair where the supper alone, served by Mirtes Paranhos, cost eight million old cruzeiros.

"If it hadn't been raining in Rio, the party would have been out in the sun. But the weather was rainy, and the party had to be moved to the veranda, which overlooks the sea. Candles provided lighting, the candelabrums being arranged with Christmas motifs (28).

"The limited parking spaces on Niemeyer Avenue forced some guests to arrive before ten o'clock in the evening in order to guarantee themselves a parking spot.

"Three guards, in gala attire, controlled the traffic in the area, to prevent congestions. Still, an old taxi was tied up for many hours in front of the house, because it could not manoeuvrer to get out.

"The guests had arrived: Nelson Motta, Sílvio César, Roberto Menescal, Denner and his wife, Marcos Lázaro, Paulinho Machado de Carvalho. Dori Caymmi arrived last. The singer Tuca embraced Denner in a way that frightened many people. She almost knocked the tailor down.

"Elis was sad because of the absence of Pelé, Roberto Carlos, Chico Buarque, Vanderléia and Jair Rodrigues. Mainly Jair Rodrigues: - Of all people, he who is my friend of always. "At midnight sharp Elis called for maître Souza and told him to serve the meal. She gave the signal two or three times and the guests sat down at the tables. First came the stuffed crab, followed by roasted meat with brown sauce, fruit cupcakes and red potatoes. The dessert was angel cake, ambrosia (29), and chocolate sweets. The wine was domestic, a rosé.

"Dona Mirtes Paranhos, who resembles dona Iolanda Costa e Silva, personally looked after the service. She had a staff of fifteen waiters and four cooks to serve the fifteen tables located throughout the house, each decorated with tropical flowers.

"Before the meal, hors d'oeuvres, and many praises for the shrimp. Mr. Hugo Delamare, friend of Elis, broke the first glass of the evening. His comment came in a chorus: - Hey, it brings luck.

"Ten minutes later, the caricaturist Ziraldo broke the second glass.

"Elis and her secretary Zoraide Aun, who is an employee of Mercedes-Benz in São Bernardo do Campo, kept asking the guests if they were having a good time.

"- Her party was the sweetest one I've seen up to now - commented a journalist.

"Before leaving, dona Mirtes Paranhos offered Elis a book of culinary recipes that she had written herself. A hundred recipes of hors d'oeuvres, cocktails and desserts, in three hundred and nineteen pages.

"Some of the recipes: chicken with garlic and oil à la Abelardo Jurema, salad à la Bibi Ferreira, chicken mincemeat à la Amaral Netto, brain à la José Taveres de Miranda, fried cake à la general Anapio Gomes, and even a green soup à la Carlos Lacerda.

The church wedding took place the following day. It was at the Mayrink Chapel, in the Floresta da Tijuca, a little church thirty feet long, small to hold the 10 yards of the veil of Elis' dress, designed by the couturier Denner. Roberto Menescal said that at one point, Mieli took the priest's bell, which was passed hand to hand through the church; Mieli said that in the absence of a sacristan, he helped out in the ceremony in his place.

The next day, the newspaper said: "Elis was married by a catholic priest and a rabbi". They insinuated that Ronaldo was jewish.

Nelson Motta remembers that someone stepped on the train of Elis' wedding gown, and that she shouted: "Get off my tail, damn it!"

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Copyright Regina Echeverria – Robert St-Louis

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