llMusic Review by Mariano Prunes [-]
Maria Bethânia's art always had a strong theatrical element, so much so than in Brazil her live performances are typically more highly anticipated than her studio albums. Unsurprisingly, Bethânia has released any number of live albums. In fact, in recent times she has adopted the custom of following her ambitious studio projects with a DVD/CD package of the corresponding show, generally one year later. Accordingly, after the much acclaimed 2009 diptych Encanteria/Tua, 2010 saw the release of the double live album (and her seventh DVD!), Amor, Festa, Devoção. How many artists could get away with a double live album that includes maybe just two or three of her best loved songs? Well, Bethânia, for sure. Her concerts are not your typical greatest hits parade; rather, they are theatrical spectacles centered around a main theme, the same one introduced in the studio album the show is presenting. They rely heavily on the new material, augmented by bits of spoken poetry and a few compositions from Bethânia's past that may fit the bill, as well as several medleys -a song form Bethânia is particularly fond of. In a way, her shows are as much about performance as about her choices and combinations (of written texts with songs, of songs with other songs in the medleys, etc). They highlight Bethânia the singer as much as Bethânia the musical anthropologist. In both counts, they are routinely artistic triumphs: the flow of the shows is seamless, even when accommodating highly disparate sources, and her magical voice, already a force of nature in the studio albums, finds her true home in the stage -check her brief a cappella rendition of "Curare," a pearl in a sea of riches. Amor, Festa, Devoção follows the pattern to a T, as it discusses in song Love, Celebration, and Devotion (the themes of Encanteria/Tua), and it features a whooping twenty-one songs culled from her 2009 releases, heard here almost in their entirety. The shadow of brother Caetano Veloso is never far away: Bethânia honors him with a gorgeous slow version of his 1982 classic "Queixa," as well as recording "Dama do Cassino" for the first time. It should be mentioned, however, that there is nothing in Amor, Festa, Devoção to recommend it above any of the previous Bethânia live releases, built along similar lines. But then again, there is no reason whatsoever not to, since there is amazingly very little material overlap and it abundantly illustrates the standard of excellence that Maria Bethânia has come to incarnate.