Maria Severa-Onofriana

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"A Severa" redirects here. For the 1931 film about her life, see A Severa (film).
Maria Severa Onofriana
Birth name Maria Severa Onofriana
Also known as A Severa
Born 1820
Origin Lisbon, Portugal
Died November 30, 1846(1846-11-30)
Genres Fado
Instruments Vocals, Portuguese guitar

Maria Severa Onofriana (1820 – November 30, 1846), also known simply as A Severa, is regarded as the first fado singer to have risen to fame, attaining a near-mythical status after her death. Fado has been described as the Portuguese expression of 'the blues,' and fado roughly means fate.

Biography[edit]

Maria Severa Onofriana was born in Lisbon, Portugal in the neighborhood of Madragoa in 1820. She was the daughter of Severo Manuel and Ana Gertrudes. Her mother was the owner of a tavern and had the nickname A Barbuda ("the bearded woman"). Severa is said to have been a tall and gracious prostitute, and would sing the fado in taverns, where she would also play the Portuguese guitar. She is known to have had several lovers, including Francisco de Paula Portugal e Castro, 13th Count of Vimioso, who brought her to attend bullfights (a public and important social event of that time).

She died of tuberculosis on November 30, 1846, on Capelão street in Mouraria, Lisbon, and afterward was buried on a common ditch on the cemetery of Alto de São João.

Her fame was due to a novel by Júlio Dantas, entitled A Severa, which was then made into a play and that was brought to stage in 1901. In 1931, director Leitão de Barros turned the play into the first Portuguese film to feature sound, A Severa.

A romantic musical, Maria Severa Onofriana, opened July 19, 2011, at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario. Book, music and lyrics by Jay Turvey and Paul Sportelli, directed by Jackie Maxwell and starring Julie Martell as Maria.

References[edit]