“Not even Fred Astaire’s movies would put Amália to sleep”

Next Tuesday it will be 16 years since Amália Rodrigues died, which is why iSleep talked about her sleep problems with her good friend Estrela Carvas, who worked with the greatest Portuguese fado singer for over 30 years. According to her, Fred Astaire was very comforting, but it took some time to work.

“Amália had great trouble sleeping, she would only go to bed in the early morning, because she wanted to be around people and going to bed would only happen very late; she rejected sleep”, says Estrela Carvas, who worked with the singer for over 30 years. “The night meant a gap in life, silence, and she was horrified of loneliness and death. That is why her house was always filled with people until dawn; it was a way of not going to bed. The problem worsened when she stopped singing, at the end of 1994, and then underwent surgery. Even Lorenin pills would not work, nor was it easy with the movies, cowboy books and dime novels she would watch and read in the hope that it would make her sleep”, Estrela Carvas adds. “She loved Fred Astaire and we would watch the movies many times, but still she did not sleep easily. When she did fall asleep and I got up, she would suddenly wake up and say to me: ‘where does the girl think she’s going?’. It became much worse when a doctor advised her to read dime novels. She would become annoyed at the stories, the poor quality of it, and have even more trouble sleeping”.

Estrela Carvas had already written about Amália’s sleep in the book Os meus 30 anos com Amália (My 30 years with Amália, not translated), where she recalls the amusing time when Amália would throw herself into cowboys books: “I would buy dozens of them and she would read them and fall asleep on the first pages – but most of the times it was I who would read it aloud, because she had no patience. At night, in bed, she would not dismiss the company of cowboy shots and Western adventures. One night, it was very late and she ran out of books: she had read everything and I still had not bought more. ‘Estrela, I have no more pills’, she would gracefully say. We had to go to the ‘pharmacy’. So there we went, driving to Santa Apolónia station, to see if we could find an open kiosk where we could buy the ‘drugs’.”