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Abstract

In her paper, "Variations on the Brazilian Orpheus Theme," Marília Scaff Rocha Ribeiro discusses Vinícius de Moraes's play Orfeu da Conceição (1956) together with two of its filmic adaptations, namely Marcel Camus's Black Orpheus (1959) and Carlos Diegues's Orfeu (1999). Ribeiro's analysis is located in the context of the race debates of the second half of the twentieth century in Brazil. Ribeiro argues that the periodic resurfacing of a musician from the favelas as a special being who is able to chant and enchant speaks to the appeal both of popular music and of the thematic of race, issues that continue to be central to Brazilian culture today. The gap between the inception and the reception of these works illustrate the paradoxes and complexities of attempting to conciliate the classical myth of Orpheus and a more socially grounded representation of life in Brazilian favelas. Instead of going down to a mythical hell, the task of this Brazilian Orpheus would be to go up the hills, where the hell of contemporary life is -- transfigured from his Greek unified origins into a mestizo fragmentation -- a re-presentation of the spirit of tragedy in a contemporary context.

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