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Amália Rodrigues’s Amália at the Olympia

The voice of Amália Rodrigues (1920-1999), the “Queen of Fado” and Portugal’s most celebrated diva, was extraordinary for its interpretive power, soul wrenching timbre, and international reach. Amalia à l’Olympia (1957) is an album made from recordings of her first performances at the fabled Olympia Music Hall in Paris in 1956. This album, which was issued for multiple national markets (including: France; USA; Japan; Britain; the Netherlands) catapulted Amália Rodrigues into the international limelight. During its time, this album held the potential for international listeners, outside of Portugal, to represent Portugal, while also standing in for cosmopolitanism, the glamorous city of Paris, and to present a sonorous voyage in sound.


This book introduces readers to the voice of Amália Rodrigues and to the genre of the Portuguese fado, offering a primer in how to listen to both. It unpacks this iconic album and the voice, sound, style, and celebrity of Amália Rodrigues. It situates this album within a historical context marked by cold war Atlanticist diplomacy, Portugal’s dictatorial regime, and the emergence of new forms of media, travel, and tourism.In so doing, it examines processes that shaped the internationalization of peripheral popular musics and the making of female vocal stardom in the mid-20th century.

Amália Rodrigues’s Amália at the Olympia

  • Lila Ellen Gray

    Examines Amália Rodrigues's seminal international hit album, recorded live at the Paris Olympia in 1956.
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  • Book Details

    Imprint: Bloomsbury Academic
    Publication Date: 19-10-2023
    Format: Paperback | 5 x 7 3/4 | 176 pages
  • About the Author

    Lila Ellen Gray is a cultural anthropologist, ethnomusicologist, and interdisciplinary scholar of music and sound. She is currently Associate Professor of Music at Dickinson College, USA. Her book Fado Resounding: Affective Politics and Urban Life (2013), was the recipient of the 2014 Woody Guthrie Award of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM-US).

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