Fado's Fabulous Songbird

It takes an especially luminous star to make the old-timers at the Petisqueira stop mid-drink and goggle. The atmospheric old tavern on the Tagus River in Lisbon's Alcântara district has long been the favored haunt of the finest performers of Fado, Portugal's traditional song form. Leading singers like Nuno da Camara Pereira and Maria da Fé could be sipping vinho da casa at the bar and, between them, get barely a sidelong glance. But when Mariza enters the place, at 11 p.m. on a winter Thursday night, heads turn, necks crane and conversation stops for a moment. This is as much...

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