Dom João da Câmara

Dom João da Câmara was one of the announcers who always inhabited good memories of Emissora Nacional. He was called "Dom" due to the fact that he was an aristocrat. In a photo, we see him reporting at Alcântara quay during the reception of the cultural embassy to Brazil, arriving on the ship Serpa Pinto. Although the date of the photograph is not precise, I imagine it is around 1954. The men in the crowd waiting for the ship are all wearing hats, a much-used piece of clothing. The announcer is wearing a suit, tie and handkerchief in his pocket and gloves, with the microphone in his hand for the report, adopting the pose of a noble man of a previous era. The ship, launched in 1914 for use by England, was sold to the Colonial Navigation Company, which used it until it was scrapped in 1955. During World War II, the passenger ship made transatlantic journeys between Lisbon, New York and Rio de Janeiro, carrying, among others, Jews fleeing Nazism. This arrival of the ship was newsworthy due to the fact it carried a group of students from the University of Coimbra who had travelled to Brazil to seek out traces of Portuguese culture in that country.


Dom João da Câmara retired from Emissora Nacional in 1970 (he had joined the company in 1938), but he continued to work for Diário Popular, where he had worked for many years. On the radio, and although he was not as popular as Artur Agostinho and Fernando Pessa in outdoor reporting, as the first presenter of the programme Serão para Trabalhadores, he became primarily known for his links to serious (classical) music on Programme 2. He was one of the first two 1st class announcers of Emissora Nacional, along with Francisco Igrejas Caeiro. An amateur classical singer, he presented the only performance of Maria Callas in Portugal, in 1958.


He was the conductor for many female announcers who joined Emissora Nacional. Maria Júlia Guerra, who had left Rádio Renascença for Emissora Nacional, to be placed on Programme 2, stated in an interview she attended classes in the German Institute to learn the phonetics of the language of many of the composers, conductors and titles of the works presented on the station. She accompanied Dom João da Câmara in presenting the opera broadcasts from Sao Carlos Theatre, even standing in for him. To be able to adequately present the broadcast, she would attend the previews to know if there were alterations, cuts or shortening of scenes or frames, she would time the length of the acts and length of the intervals and also conduct interviews. Maria Dinorah entered as a trainee announcer, having had a test with Dom João da Câmara, who told her she had a very beautiful voice, so she should not be afraid to speak into the microphone. He helped her a lot, he was a sort of music dictionary. Other announcers also worked with him, like Julieta Nascimento and Maria Leonor Magro, on programmes such as O Gosto pela Música. Julieta Nascimento, who loved classical music, took his place: "it's not possible to say this, because his place cannot be occupied - but in fact it was I who succeeded him in the opera broadcasts. I am crazy about opera. Before that, I often accompanied him, I was an adviser on small things". A magazine of the time provided an account of this form of presenting:


"it gave it a monumental density when each of them came on air, Moreira da Câmara, Dom João da Câmara, Maria Leonor, Nuno Fradique, Armando Marques Ferreira... Extraordinary voices that, in themselves, are absolutely unique appeal systems! [...] There are artists who, when on stage, once you turn on the lights, become more beautiful, taller, more communicative, aren't there? Radio has that: you switch on the microphone and they become a pleasure to hear”[1].


[1] José Nuno Martins, in Mário Figueiredo, Relatório do Provedor do Ouvinte 2010, p. 78.


Author: Rogério Santos, 2022

#Djoaodacamara #biografia #d

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