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Maria Carta

Maria Carta, whose voice had warm echoes of the scorching sun and dark echoes of the depths of the caves, sang Sardinia as a woman had never done before. The sounds of an ancient past, the myths, the legends sinking their roots in the heart of the island's most popular culture, have all been celebrated by her wonderful voice. She offered us lullabies and liturgies, gosos (anti-devotional and paraliturgical), songs of love, trallallera and ancient dances, songs of death and Gallura’s disisperade. She has been a custodian of traditional songs, she has found and studied many of them, defending them from oblivion in which they would probably have perished.

Maria Carta was born in Logudoro, in Siligo (Sassari) in 1934, from a poor family who scratched their living from the land. She was a tiny little girl, very skinny, with big dark eyes, who was orphaned by her father too soon, as she wrote: “he died of poverty”. Homed by an aunt, at the age of eight she went to help in her godmother’s house. She used to say *: "In winter it was necessary to weed the wheat, spin the wool, wash the clothes in the river, and bring together the olives. I went for day-work with the harvesters: they whipped the trees and the olives hailed on the ground. I, with my child's hands, was very fast and, in the evening, I had filled four measures, as grown-up women did". Growing up, she paid a lot of attention to the traditions of her people, to her land’s songs. She used to say *: «I always sang on the street, when the shepherds heard me, they used to say “today Maria is going to the river” … "when I was afraid, I ran and sang. I've always said that I chased the Shadows out of my way only through my voice… ". On Sundays she went to church and couldn't wait to sing. She found out to have a voice bigger than herself, dark as a cave, and at mass she learned Gregorian hymns that she would never forget.

Magic filled Maria's childhood: among others, there were the Panas, women who died in childbirth returning to wash their baby's clothes and Maria sang aloud to exorcize those presences. When she was older, she sang during the village festivals. On those occasions there were the los cantadores , the Singers of Sardinia. From them Maria learned all the Logudorese traditional pieces. Songs of death and joy that she constantly interpreted, reworked, rearranged throughout her life.

Maria grew and became so beautiful that in 1957 she won the Miss Sardinia contest. Maria, was holding pride and grace in her magnificence, depicting the untouchable and wild nature of Sardinian beauty.

At the beginning of the sixties, she left Sardinia and reached Rome. "... I threw my umbilical cord like an anchor, it is certainly still there, entangled in the highest point of Tavolara." She attended the popular music study center of the Santa Cecilia Academy. With her voice she restored the presence of women in Sardinian Gregorian chant because in Sardinia singing was considered male exclusive matter. In Sardinia, however, they accused her of having "commercialized" the Sardinian song. They did not understand that she was ennobling that song, elevating it to national heritage. But she never gave up, contradicting their "because in Sardinia women do not sing" with her "because in Sardinia the song was born female, at the time of matriarchy".

In Rome through Ennio Morricone in 1971 her first album entitled Paradiso in re was released. In 1972 she returned to Sardinia for a recital in Sìligo, her only one in her native country. She recounted*: "At a certain point I announced Sa Disisperada, a song of the dawn, of the awakening that comes from the archaic Sardinian folk traditions. From under the stage an old man looked at me and said “here I want to see you…” In the end, Uncle Gerolamo, that was the old man's name, was crying ». Sa Disisperada, is one of the most difficult songs of the traditional repertoire coming from the most ancient origins of Sardinian culture. But Maria did not disappoint them and in Sìligo that day she also successfully sang the Gallurese Trallallera.

From then on, an ever-increasing career that will include documentaries with Rai; she was at the Teatro Argentina in Rome; at the Bol’šoj in Moscow and other concerts throughout Europe. In 1973 she duetted with Amália Rodrigues. Between 1977 and 1988 he acted in the movies for Pasolini, Coppola, Zeffirelli, Rosi, Tornatore. In 1973 she was in theater with Euripides' Medea and in 1992 he represented Teresa of Avila. Was often hosted on TV. She was popular in France at the Olympia and the Théâtre de la Ville. Maria Carta gave her last concert in Toulouse, France, on June 30, 1993. Long suffering from cancer, she died at home in Rome at the age of 60.

 

"…Maria’s songs in the Logudorese language tell of the life of people she loves and who she sings, releasing her wonderful voice, the existential strength of her feelings."

(*Giuseppe Dessì)

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Written by Daniela Toti

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