23 February 2012

Judging Carnaval

Getting ready to read the scores
That's it, carnaval is over. Yesterday was the apuração, the judging, the final tally, the crowning of the winner. The apuração is always broadcast at 4:00 p.m. on Ash Wednesday, and anyone who calls me during that time gets a "she can't be disturbed" from Mark. I love watching the apuração almost more than watching carnaval itself, even though I don't really have a dog in the fight. I love the guy who reads out the scores in his deep, stentorian voice, with his carioca accent. I love all the self-important rustling of papers and whispered, last-minute consultations behind hand-covered microphones. The heart-wrenching emotions of the samba schools. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

And it's not as if the judging is easy. All the samba schools in what's called the Special Group are excellent, or they wouldn't be there. This year, an astonishing eight of the 13 schools vying for the title had near-perfect presentations, and this is not just the opinion of a foreign lay-person. The results were tight, and depended more than ever upon fractions of points and the subjectivity of the judges. Here's how the final judging went:

My tally sheet

Champion — Unidos da Tijuca (The samba school of my favorite carnavalesco, Paulo Barros!)

Vice Champion — Salgueiro (How? Why? This school had loads of technical problems that caused huge holes in their parade . . . they should have lost points left and right! But they didn't.)

Unidos da Tijuca —
Standard-bearer and Master of Ceremonies

Another live float from Paulo Barros

I've dedicated a good part of February to carnaval blogposts in the hopes of introducing aspects of the spectacle that are barely known outside of Brazil. But for those of you who have had your fill of carnaval, and of my carnaval posts, rejoice! Not one more carnaval  peep out of me until February of 2013. Those cars that jammed our streets since the day after Christmas have turned around and gone home. High season is officially over, life officially returns to normal. Deep breath, everyone, and let's all let out one long, big "Whew!"

Bye-bye for now

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