April 30: Mariza at the Napa Valley Opera House

“This is the music they make love to in Portugal,” I said. “It’s called fado.” My friends stared at me. Had I really just proclaimed something so corny, they thought? Yet I had put on an Amalia Rodriguez record, and as soon as the first heart-wringing, pining ode finished oozing out of the speakers, they completely understood. Fado is the Portuguese version of James Brown collapsing to his knees, pleading “Please, Please, Please”; It’s Lucinda Williams tracing an ex-lovers scent in “Fruits of my Labor”; It’s Maria Callas despairing through Ebben? Ne andró lontana. No living fado singer can ever fill the shoes of Amalia Rodriguez, who died in 1999, but the feet of the Mozambique-born Mariza are growing into an acceptable fit. Mariza has toured worldwide with an affecting poignancy in her singing that’s helped sell hundreds of thousands of albums and, more importantly, kept fado alive and well across the world. Awe is the common response to her live appearances; she pours her heart out on Thursday, April 30, at the Napa Valley Opera House, 1030 Main St., Napa. 8pm. $45. 707.226.7372.Gabe Meline

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