Ana Maria Pinto: The Portuguese Opera Singer Who Could (Protest)

By James Inverne on Jul 19, 2013 02:51 AM EDT

A fantastic story here from the good folks at NPR Music...

Portuguese soprano Ana Maria Pinto has become the face--or perhaps the voice--of popular protest in her native country. Though her published rep list includes such standard soprano fare as Musetta in La bohème or Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, these days she's as likely to be singing outside in the streets as in Portugal's opera houses.

It all started, says NPR, on October 5, when Pinto led crowds in song to drown out an address by the nation's president, Anibal Cavaco Silva, on Republic Day. Security guards were reportedly confused by the fact that the soprano was singing opera. "At the end they asked me, 'Is this part of the event?' And I said, 'No, this is my protest!'" Pinto said.

So, Pinto became an integral part of the protests against the country's austerity budget. She put protestors' preference for song over slingshots, or worse, as evidence of their strength as a society. And the soprano has now started the Coro de Intervenção do Porto (Intervention Choir of Porto) to sing in unified protest.

It's not the first time that a classical musician has been an active protestor.

In very recent times, Sascha Goetzel, music director of Turkey's Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra, has been tweeting about his fellow musicians joining him in the recent widespread street protests in Istanbul.

And as Classicalite has reported, Fazil Say, that same country's most prominent international pianist, has been wrangling with the authorities over anti-establishment tweets of his own.

Historically, it is not uncommmon for musicians to get involved--famously, the great cellist Mstislav Rostropovich had his Russian passport torn up for supporting the dissident author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

A little closer to the wallet, singers at Opera Australia have been protesting about mooted contract reductions. One wonders, what might they sing when they get going? Let's hope those poor folks don't feel moved to turn to The Beggar's Opera.

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TagsJames Inverne, Ana Maria Pinto, NPR Music, Anibal Cavaco Silva, Republic Day, Intervention Choir of Porto, Portugal, Turkey, Sascha Goetzel, Fazil Say, Rostropovich, Solzhenitsyn, Opera Australia

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