Bibi Ferreira, the grande dame of the Brazilian stage who performed internationally and helped bring Broadway musicals to Brazil in the 1960s, died on Feb. 13th. She was 96.
Ferreira, who sang in English, French and Spanish as well as in Portuguese, began acting when she was a child and continued performing well into her 90s.
Ferreira was born in Rio de Janeiro, the daughter of stage actor Procópio Ferreira and Argentine dancer Aida Izquierdo, born in Buenos Aires. Her paternal grandparents came from Madeira Island, Portugal; her maternal grandparents, Antonio Izquierdo and Irma Queirola, were from Spain. She learned dance at Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro.
Her father invited his daughter to join his company. She made her stage debut performing La Locandiera at Teatro Serrador in Rio de Janeiro, on February 1941. She formed her own company three years later. During this period, she began hosting several talk and variety television shows, giving new artists and playwrights the opportunity to present their work.
In 1962, she was cast in the Brazilian production of My Fair Lady, which set a Brazi-lian record for its 2 ½ year run. She then played leads in Hello Dolly and Man of La Mancha. In the 1970s, she began directing her own productions. Ferreira began performing in a musical about Édith Piaf in 1983, and toured the show through Europe.
Ferreira was a prominent figure in the Brazilian entertainment industry. Her protégé, singer Maria Bethânia, said of Ferreira, “Everything she does has helped Brazil with its identity.” The French Government awarded her the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1985. In 2016, Ferreira appeared in “Bibi Times Four”, a one-woman show at Symphony Space in NYC.