The first Brazilian soap opera shown in Portugal, “Gabriela” premiered on Portuguese screens 45 years ago, on May 16, 1977.
The feuilleton starring Sônia Braga, originally shown by TV Globo in 1975, quickly conquered the Portuguese and became a great phenomenon in the country, which literally stopped to watch the plot chapters.
Its popularity was such that, on several occasions, the Assembly of the Republic even postponed the working hours: all so that the deputies could follow the plot.
Despite the scarcity of television sets at the time, the soap opera won over the public, who gathered in clubs, associations, cafes and restaurants to follow the story.
Aired for 6 months on RTP, the country’s public television, the plot based on the homonymous book by Jorge Amado crossed the Atlantic at a time of great changes in Portuguese society.
Shortly before, on April 25, 1974, the Carnation Revolution had put an end to the longest dictatorship in Western Europe. It was the time of the 1st constitutional government, elected in free elections in 1976 and headed by Mário Soares.
In the midst of crises and the post-revolutionary climate, it was in 1977 that Portugal formally asked to join the European Economic Community, the entity that preceded the European Union.
Accompanied by a strong marketing campaign, which included the transmission of a live show with Vinícius de Morais on the occasion of its launch, the telenovela generated enormous popularity for everything related to its universe.
“Gabriela” marked the entrance of Brazilian cultural industry productions in Portugal: the actors gained the status of first-rate celebrities, the soundtrack was a huge success and the characters’ catchphrases became part of everyday vocabulary.
The popularization of the Brazilian variant of Portuguese, with its accents and expressions, was the target of different reactions. While there were those who celebrated the enrichment of the language and its opening to the largest Portuguese-speaking country, complaints about the possible interference and Brazilianization of the language were also frequent.
The success of the work inaugurated the tradition of Brazilian soap operas in the country. Since then, there is always a telenovela from Brazil on display in Portugal.
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