Carnaval is great, especially the Murgas

Carnaval in Uruguay is long. I’m not sure how long but more than a month. Basically it consists of groups of (mostly men) performing short (aprox 45 minutes) plays on stages in neighborhoods throughout the city and ending in a final competition in the main theater – Teatro de Verano.

The plays fall into 3 categories–Comedy, Parody and Murga. Murgas are the most traditional and seem to be the most popular. They’ve been doing them since the early 20th century. Mostly they are politically themed and consist of three parts – the greeting, the… middle… and the ending or ‘despedida.’ The beginning and end are the most important parts, the middle seems to often be a mixture of spoken word and singing.

Murga groups are about 15 men. They sing loudly and vary their voices in a sort of falsetto harmony. Hearing it live is impressive. It’s the kind of thing that gives you goosebumps. Costumes are elaborate. Extremely elaborate. Competition is stiff.

I went to the last night of Carnaval and though I didn’t understand a lot of what they were singing about I really enjoyed it.

Ok, this is turning into a Wikipedia entry. Let me stop by linking there and putting in a video of a Murga so you can get the feel for it and… there you go. Don’t miss Carnaval. I’ve never seen anything like it.

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1 Comment

Filed under montevideo, uruguay

One response to “Carnaval is great, especially the Murgas

  1. First sorry for my bad English many years ago I finished high school and I forgot almost everything, I wanted to say that the murgas have an important role in exposing social injustice and do it with humor difficult to understand for someone who is not uruguayan, not even the argentines who speak similar fail to understand the message in its entirety, I appreciate what you have said about our carnival, greetings from Montevideo!

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