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LES ÉTOILES

Rolando Faria, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 1951-2021
Luiz Antonio, São Paulo, SP, 1946-2002

In 1974, Rolando Faria and Luiz Antonio formed the musical duo Les Étoiles in Barcelona, while in exile. After moving to Paris, they quickly became internationally acclaimed. Throughout their career, they recorded several albums, participated in TV programs, films and shared the stage with other great artists, defining the perception of Brazilian culture in Europe. They recorded their last album in 1985, but continued to perform occasionally in the 1990s, until just before Luiz Antonio passed away.

published on 11/25/2021

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Rolando Faria was born on August 15, 1951 in Rio de Janeiro, five years after Luiz Antonio, born on October 31, 1946 in São Paulo. Rolando had always been interested in music and participated since his early days in musical meetings of the University Artistic Movement. The festivals were linked to Globo's Som Livre Export program, where several new talents of the 70s emerged. At the age of 22, he recorded a single, but was invited to travel to Europe to participate in the albums Brésil 72 and Central do Brasil. In addition to singing, he was also a guitarist and arranger. After the tour ended, he decided to stay in Barcelona, where he met Luiz Antonio. With a little more advanced career, Luiz had participated in the band Aquarius and in albums and tours with Dom Salvador and Rildo Hora. In 1974, after being invited to perform together by the owner of a nightclub, they started the duo. From the beginning, they adopted a very well defined look, which gave new meaning to the Tropicália and groups like Dzi Croquettes and The Cockettes, where Sylvester started. Although Luiz Antonio wore heavy makeup, long nails, turbans and hats all the time, Rolando only dressed like that to perform, wearing discreet clothes in his day-to-day life. The two were in voluntary exile. At that time, many Brazilians, Uruguayans, Chileans and Argentines changed the European cultural scene, questioning the dictatorial regimes of their countries of origin.

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Two years later, they moved to Paris and were named Les Étoiles by the audience. Then released their first album: Meu Coração é um Pandeiro ou… , interpreting Milton Nascimento in Viola Violar  and Carmen Miranda in Chica Chica Boom Chic. Rolando tells in an interview with Lampião da Esquina: "When we arrived in Paris, Brazilian music was not well defined. Most intellectuals thought it was protest and the general public thought it was Carnival. Many people didn't like it and started to like it because of us." In 1977, they created the soundtrack for the film Comme la Lune, the first that they would participate over the years. They also produced their second album, Piratas do Sentimento. Even just singing in Portuguese, they started to open concerts for great singers and conquered a legion of fans with its originality. One of the highlights of their careers was the week of April 14-20, 1978, when France Gall invited them to perform during breaks for her TV show. Made in France was recorded at the Champs-Elysées Theater by an all-female crew and reached one of the largest audiences in the country. Even not pleasing the directors of the network, they sang Plus Haut Que Moi, a French version of Maria Vai com as Outras.

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In 1980, they released a live compilation with versions of Gilberto Gil such as Eu Vim da Bahia and Logunedé. The following year, they finally started selling in Brazil. Les Étoiles - Rolando & Luiz Antonio was a “best moments” of the first 2 albums and was the only one to be commercially released in their country, ever. In Paris, they continued to perform regularly in the Rue des Ecoles club Discophage, one of the most frequented by the Brazilian community. In 1984, marking the duo's 10th anniversary, Sina de Ciganos was born, which had lyrics written by friends of the University Artistic Movement. However, around that time, the energy to continue in the European phonographic market, recording and performing with the project, was running out. With the difficulties of the relationship and without a very efficient career management, many concert opportunities were lost. This was aggravated by the return of democracy in Brazil, which made it possible for artists such as Chico Buarque and Milton Nascimento to return to stages all over the world, leaving those who managed their careers more independently, forgotten.

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In late 1985, the farewell album Live Au Forum was recorded. After the release, they dedicated to their solo careers and occasionally performed together per fan requests. On April 21, 2002, Luiz Antonio, who had been suffering from serious health problems for some time, died at the age of 55. Rolando continued to perform, teaching Brazilian music and conducting workshops in Paris and Marseille. Between 2013 and 2015, he regularly came to Brazil for concert seasons in Rio de Janeiro. However, diabetes caused him to end his career quietly. He died in Paris on April 29, 2021. When people die, we say they have become stars in the sky and their shine will always exist, with Les Étoiles this is specially true. Today, it is possible to find all of the albums and some of the presentations for French television on Youtube. Despite being practically unknown in Brazil, their influence can still be felt, as they were responsible for opening doors for a generation of artists that refused the conventional place of sound and aesthetics. With a career spanning only nine years, but great productivity, they projected their voices and visuals around the world, not only giving new meaning to the Brazilian Popular Music (MPB) repertoire, but also marking a new path for a global perspective of Brazilian art.

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Discography:

1976: My Heart is a tambourine or…

1977: Pirates of Feeling

1979: Live at the Discophage

1981: Les Étoiles

1982: La Baleine and My Sandwich

1984: Fate of Gypsies

1985: Les Étoiles au Forum des Halles

1991: Tutti, with the National Jazz Orchestra

Research References:

Les Étoiles, French Wikipedia

Lampião da Esquina, editions 18 and 37, published in 1979 and 1981

Luiz Antonio and Rolando Faria, Les Étoiles Tribute Page, Facebook

Modulated Frequency. "Les Étoiles: overshadowed stars of Brazilian music", 2018

ROSE, Garcia. "Les Étoiles: Little-Known Stars But Brightly Shine", 2020

TENNY, Echo. "The Brazilian singer Rolando Faria, a member of the duo Les Étoiles, died at the age of 69", 2021

FIDALGO, Sabrina . "Meet Les Étoiles, Brazilian iconic duo, who opened the doors of Europe to the MPB." Vogue Brazil, 2021