“I’m in love with Lisbon” is how Portuguese musician and composer Rodrigo Leão defines his relationship with the city that right at the start was the laboratory for his musical projects in the 80s: first with the band Sétima Legião, and later the group Madredeus, with which he took the new Portuguese music abroad.
Now, as a solo artist, Rodrigo’s melodies continue to travel the world; but he always longs to return to Lisbon, to the light that he likes to see reflected alongside the avenues: “it’s a special light that reminds me of the film ‘In the White City’ by Alain Tanner (filmed in Lisbon) and of Wim Wenders”.
“Lisbon has a very poetic side”. It’s a ravishing landscape that we catch sight of “when we cross the bridge (over the Tagus) towards Lisboa and we see the city – it’s a unique sensation”. But it was the bohemian Lisbon of Bairro Alto that seduced the musi-cian: “I’ve always had this fascination for Bairro Alto. For me, Chiado and this area are the heart of the city.” My best youthful memories are of Bairro, because “that’s where we started going out at night, and came to talk of our dreams and projects, in other words where we came to philosophise...”.
Today Rodrigo Leão keeps this link to the ‘lunar’ side of the city, since he and his wife run the legendary bar Frágil, which is about to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Yet there is another reason why Rodrigo Leão has made this district his “city within the city”. Here you can enjoy the greatest of privileges – that of being “at the centre of everything”, a stone’s throw from good bookshops “such as Sá da Costa and Bertrand”, excellent restaurants “to name just a few: ‘Pap’ Açorda’, a classic, the Italian ‘Casanostra’, which has a great terrace, and ‘Aqui há Peixe’, my latest discovery and a fantastic place to eat fresh fish”. Also, of course, there’s the Teatro do Bairro, where you can see all the performing arts, “even films”.