The champion of Rio de Janeiro’s 2011 Carnival samba school competition is Beija Flor! This last Saturday they took to the avenue of the sambodromo at the parade of champions to the peoples delight. The samba school fro Nilopolis has won 6 times in the last 10 years. In the official competition, Beija Flor was the last to enter, rain coming down rain pouring down and all, to the absolute emotion of the fans.
As you may or may not know, every year samba schools choose a theme to celebrate carnival. The theme unites the song (the enredo), the costumes, and the decor on the floats. This year the the for Beija Flor was a homage to the one and only Roberto Carlos, the Rei (king) of Brazilian popular music.
Roberto Carlos himself appeared on the last carro alegorico (float) waving at the fans who had waited past sunrise for the spectacle. The floats followed his life, his career, and the song the same. In an American context, it’s like doing a theme based on a living Elvis. The famous composer and singer Neginho da Beija Flor created the ennredo (samba school song) all about the “king’s” life, and everyone sang their hearts out in unison.
The choice of Beija Flor as champion wasn’t without some controversy. Many people were rooting for last year’s champion, Unidos da Tijuca, and the fantastical creations of the carnavalesco (carnival designer) Paulo Barros. Many pointed out to the weaknesses in Beija Flor’s show: the float with the hummingbird (that’s what a beija flor is) looked like some cheap float out of the eighties, and there was a float with images of Yemanja, Orixa of the sea. What does that have to do with Roberto Carlos exactly? Finally, people said that the reason they won was because of the presence of the king Roberto Carlos himself, and the intense lobby behind the samba school.
Heck, whether true or not, there are no doubts that the show was fantastic, Roberto Carlos is adored and the union of the two made for an emotional moment as the samba school entered the avenue at the sambodromo.
Pra Ka Ti Boom! long live the king! Beija Flor, champion of carnival!