Oct 1, 2013: After the acclaimed show Bibi in Concert at Lincoln Center earlier this year, the Brazilian performing legend Bibi Ferreira returns to New York on November 13 to perform one of the greatest accomplishments of her career BIBI SINGS PIAF at The Town Hall, accompanied by orchestra and chorus. This is the first U.S. performance of the show, which is now celebrating its 30th anniversary, and which has been seen by over 5 million people in Brazil, France and Portugal.
For three decades Bibi has been singing Edith Piaf's repertoire and dramatizing the life of the legendary French singer. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Piaf's death, and with it, a renewed interest in Piaf's art and those who have kept her spirit alive. And no one has done that more dramatically than Bibi Ferreira.
Bibi Ferreira entered the universe of Edith Piaf inadvertently when, after the astounding success of the groundbreaking Brazilian play Gota d'Água (Drop of Water) in the 1970s, she was researching scripts for a new theater project. A friend introduced her to the play Piaf by the English author Pam Gems.
In May of 1983, Bibi Ferreira debuted Piaf - A Vida de uma Estrela da Canção (Piaf - The Life of a Star of Song) at the Ginástico Português Theater (the current Sesc Ginatico Theater) in Rio de Janeiro. With seasons of absolute success in both Rio de Janeiro and in Sao Paulo, where there were more than 700,000 attendees, the show embarked on two large nationwide tours of the main state capitals of the country, remaining a box office record-holder in these theaters to this day.
In 1985, as recognition for the production and for the great dissemination of French culture in Brazil, the French government honored Bibi with the Order of Arts and Letters of the French Republic. The award was given to Bibi by the then-First Lady Danielle Mitterand and the then-Minister of Culture Jack Lang, in a private ceremony held in Brazil.
In 1988, the play went to Portugal with Bibi in the lead role and a Portuguese cast. It remained at the Cassino do Estoril Theater for six months. The play is still considered one of the biggest hits in Portugal.
In 1992, Bibi was invited by the French Consulate and by the Rio de Janeiro City Hall to open Praça Paris (Paris Square) in downtown Rio de Janeiro. For the special occasion, the actress created a new format to showcase Edith Piaf's life and music in the concert Bibi Canta e Conta Piaf (Bibi Sings and Tells Piaf). The concert maintained the singing of the main repertoire of the French singer, tailored with short texts about her life.
In May of 2000, the show debuted in Paris, France at the Dejazet Theater. There were many famous celebrities in the audience, among them Michel Rivegauche, the composer of Piaf's big hits, not the least of which were the first two songs of the show, La foule and La Ville Inconnue. Also attending was, Pierre Ribert, owner of Ediçôes Metropolitanas, editor of Piaf's albums, and the man who personally took care of selecting repertoire with Piaf herself, suggesting songs, arrangements, producers, and musicians.
At the end of the show, Rivegauche hugged Bibi and said, “Bibi, you don't imitate Piaf, you are a great performer, just like Piaf was. Your portrayal of my songs will remain forever in my heart.” And, he added, “You don't only have a quartet accompanying you, you have a 'small orchestra'” (in Paris, the show was performed with only a quartet).
The day after the show, Bibi and her manager and producer Nilson Raman received an email from Pierre Ribert asking for a meeting that would take place the following day. To begin, with a folder and tape in hand, he said, “Bibi, I have had this material with me for many years, in search of a high-level performer and two nights ago, I met you. Your portrayal is rare, few times in my life have a seen an artist with such scenic strength. Ma'am, in these folders and on this tape is the last repertoire selected by Piaf. This was to be her last album. Record these songs.”
In May 2003, Bibi recorded the CD-DVD Bibi Canta Piaf (Bibi Sings Piaf) live at the Maison de France Theater in Rio de Janeiro with a choir and orchestra for the record label Biscoito Fino. Having already been distributed in many countries, it has been highlighted as a “must-have” by the French retailer FNAC, having been featured prominently in the window displays of the stores.
Recently, the French photographer Hugues Vassal, friend of Piaf and the person who documented Piaf's final years, declared that Bibi Ferreira was the only performer capable of reliving the dramatic emotion of Piaf.
On the occasion of the Year of France in Brazil in 2009, Bibi received France's highest artistic honors again, this time with the title of Commander, the highest commendation the French Government can bestow upon a person connected to French culture.
In June of 2013, to celebrate 30 years of her Piaf programs, Bibi debuted a new nationwide tour in Brazil, accompanied by chorus and orchestra, which began with a two-month run at Frei Caneca Theater in Sao Paulo. Two weeks in advance, all of the tickets sold out. The show, which also opens in Rio, is, once again, an absolute success, this time with a whole new generation of critics and concert-goers.
At last, New York will be able to see Brazil's most beloved singer in her most celebrated show, one known to Piaf fans worldwide.
“To Brazilians, the name Bibi Ferreira is to musical theatre what Antonio Carlos Jobim is to samba.” - FORBES BRAZIL
“Bibi proved why she is the most famous singer in Brazil when she brought the house down at Alice Tully Hall” - NEW YORK POST