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Beija-Flor

One of the top Carioca samba schools, the Beija-Flor de Nilópolis was the absolute champion of the annual contest in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980 (that year, together with Imperatriz Leopoldinense and Portela), 1983, and 1998. The hiring of Joãozinho Trinta and extremely large amounts of money gained from gambling (jogo do bicho, animals game) imposed forever a new, grandiose face not only to the Beija-Flor's parade, but to the entire Carioca Carnival. During Christmas Eve of 1948, members of the bloco (group of Carnival merrymakers) Irineu Perna de Pau, which had paraded for the last time that year, decided to create another bloco de Carnaval. Milton de Oliveira (Negão da Cuíca), Edson Vieira Rodrigues (Edinho do Ferro Velho), Silvestre David da Silva (Cabana), Helles Ferreira da Silva, Mário Silva, Walter Silva, Hamilton Floriano, and José Fernandes da Silva took the task upon themselves. As they hadn't a single instrument, it was Edinho's duty to provide the group with some cod barrels that, with the help of leather from Nilópolis' (their neighborhood, a working-class suburb in Rio) butchery, became the first drum section (bateria) of the samba school Beija-Flor de Nilópolis. The first official meeting of the new bloco was at the Grêmio Teatral de Nilópolis (Theater Society of Nilópolis), when a provisional president was appointed, Milton de Oliveira, and his secretary, Edson Vieira Rodrigues. The choice of a name was a more difficult task, and after many hours there wasn't consensus. It was when Milton de Oliveira's mother D. Eulália de Oliveira suggested Associação Carnavalesca Beija-Flor (Hummingbird Carnival Association). D. Eulália was then admitted as a founder, having been the sole woman in the nascent bloco. The colors adopted were blue and the white, remaining so until today. On the brink of Carnaval, they had their instruments prepared and their costumes tailored. It was when the first president was elected, Helles Ferreira da Silva. He commanded the Beija-Flor until 1953.

The successful debut at the parade of 1949 excited the members of the bloco, who made plans for a better organization as they were having their rehearsals in the open street, on the corner of Mirandela and João Pessoa streets.

In 1953, Cabana registered the Beija-Flor in the Confederation of Samba Schools for the official Carnaval parade of 1954. The bloco was now a samba school. In that year, the Beija-Flor won the contest of the second division with the plot "O Caçador de Esmeraldas," ascending to the first division. In 1956, the school won the Spring Carnival instituted by the city's tourism department with Ari Carobinha's samba. After having descended to the second division in 1963, it would only return to the elite of the Carioca Carnaval (occupying the seventh place) in 1974, presenting plots (enredos) that glorified the military coup, in that and the next year. In 1975, the powerful brothers Abrahão David, owners of the numbers game (jogo do bicho) in that region of the city, started to sponsor the samba school. They hired the Carnaval master creator Joãozinho Trinta, who had introduced the grandiosity of his imagination in the year before, winning the title for the Salgueiro samba school with the enredo "Rei de França na Ilha da Assombração" ("The King of France in the Haunted Island"). In 1975, Trinta won the contest for Salgueiro again, with the plot "O Segredo das Minas do Rei Salomão" ("The Secret of King Salomon's Mines"). After the Carnival, Anísio Abrahão David decided to transform the modest Beija-Flor into a big school, encouraged by the fact that, in the previous year, another jogo do bicho owner, Castor de Andrade, had involved himself directly in the direction of a samba school, the Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel. Anísio put his brother Nelson Abrahão David in the presidency of the Beija-Flor, hired Trinta as a secret composer, and invested maybe the largest amount of money by an individual in a samba school, which yielded a major newspaper report titled "Escolas de Samba S.A" ("Samba Schools Inc."). Not surprisingly, the Beija-Flor won in that year, its first title as the absolute winner of the Carioca Carnival contest, with Joãozinho Trinta's creation over the enredo "Sonhar com Rei Dá Leão" ("To Dream with a King is the Lion") -- also not surprisingly a plot dealing with the jogo do bicho (Brazilian numbers games use animals, and people who play the game used to bet based on the their dreams during the previous night). Trinta's creation, fueled by the unsurpassed monetary resources he disposed of, made his previous excursions at Salgueiro seem timid. But, before the Carnival of 1977, the composer Cabana, one of the founders of the school, protested against the participation of Joãozinho Trinta in the authorship of the samba chosen in the internal contest to represent the school in the Carnaval of that year, arguing that Trinta had written just four verses of the 35 that constituted the samba-enredo "Vovó e o Rei da Saturnália na Corte Egipciana" ("Grandma and the King of Saturnalia in the Egyptian Court"). But, while no one listened to Cabana's complaints, the arresting of Anísio three days before the Carnival caused a commotion. Having spent two days in jail and given his testimony, Anísio was freed by a habeas-corpus submitted by his lawyer. It stated that his arresting was "a subversive act commanded by communists," as Carlinhos Maracanã, then president of the Portela samba school and also a jogo do bicho owner, was also arrested in the occasion. Subsequent declarations by Anísio gave credence to his conspiracy theory, according to which there was a movement to exclude from the Carnaval the four schools commanded by jogo do bicho owners (Beija-Flor, Portela, Mocidade Independente, and Imperatriz Leopoldinense). Taking those four schools out of the Carioca Carnival contest, the communists would be planning to promote a rebellion by the people of the entire nation against the country's central government.

Nevertheless, the Beija-Flor won the contest of that year again, repeating the deed in 1978 (with "Criação do Mundo na Tradição Nagô," or "The Creation of the World in the Nagô Tradition"). The school remained on the top, being classified in any of the three first positions during the next ten years. Joãozinho Trinta would win the contest for the school also in 1980 with "O Sol da Meia-Noite e uma Viagem ao País das Maravilhas" ("The Midnight Sun and a Trip to the Wonderland") and in 1983, having left the Beija-Flor in 1992. The samba school was champion again in 1998 with "Pará, o Mundo Místico dos Caruanas nas Águas do Patu-Anu" ("Pará, the Mystical World of the Caruanas in the Waters of the Patu-Anu"). The school parades each year with an average of 3,800 members. ~ Alvaro Neder
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Quiet One And The Lonely One

1. The Quiet One

2. The Lonely One

3. Northern Lights

4. He, Himself, He

5. Sophia

6. Miss May

7. Operdomo

8. Take Care Carolina

9. Clean

10. Traffic

11. Honey Boy

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