I got in touch with Mr. Eugénio Rodrigues, a Portuguese composer who lived and studied in the USA before moving back to Portugal, where he lives in Lousã, the town he grew up in. For information on his work and his biography, please visit his website at http://eugeniorodrigues.com/?cat=65.
In 2002, Eugénio was deeply impressed by a series of eight small paintings by the Portuguese artist Paula Rego in the chapel of the Palacio de Belém, the official residence of the Portuguese president in Lisbon. The canvases depict the life of Virgin Mary. He decided to compose music which should reflect those eight paintings and he started looking for texts with a connection to the paintings. That is how he came across my Ultimate Stabat Mater Website and he got the idea to compose a version of the Stabat Mater. However, after considering the contemporary character of Paula Rego’s work, he soon decided not to use the Latin text, but to look for more recent texts instead. He found wonderful poems by Miguel Torga, a 20th century Portuguese poet, that could fit his purpose, along with poems by other Portugese authors.
At this time he had recently moved to Lousã, where there is a Sanctuary to Our Lady of Mercy. This inspired him to compose the first section of his composition, titled PIETÀ, based on one of Paula Rego’s paintings, and a poem by Miguel Torga.
PIETÀ had its premiere in November 2019 in Lisbon by Nova Era Vocal Ensemble. Eugénio told me that various choirs from all over the world, from South Africa, the US, Canada to Greece, Spain and Portugal, have approached him for the score and are planning to perform it.
PIETÀ is scored for SATB a cappella choir, soprano soloist and includes percussion that can be played by choir members. Eugénio is now looking for funding to complete the other seven sections which will form his ‘Stabat Mater’.
I am grateful that Eugénio was kind enough to share the information about his composition with me and that he sent me the video of the performance. Please listen to PIETÀ!