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Saturday, October 9, 1999 Published at 05:39 GMT 06:39 UK

World: Europe

Portugal mourns the 'voice of its soul'

State funeral: Amalia's coffin was draped in a Portuguese flag

Thousands of mourners took to the streets of the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, to say a last goodbye to one of the country's defining cultural icons.

BBC's Colin Blane: "She was a symbol of how Portugal had endured and changed"
After three days of national mourning, Portugal's "Queen of Fado", Amalia Rodrigues, was finally laid to rest.

Rodrigues, who died on Wednesday aged 79, was a celebrated performer of the Fado, songs that conveyed sadness and the feeling of loss. She was widely known simply as Amalia.

Her fame was such that President Jorge Sampaio and Prime Minister Antonio Guterres were among those to attend the beloved diva's state funeral. Actor Anthony Quinn was among international personalities to send flowers.

[ image: Amalia in characteristic stage poise]
Amalia in characteristic stage poise
The death of Amalia has cast a long shadow over campaigning for Portugal's general election on Sunday, forcing candidates to limit their political activities.

During the service, at Lisbon's Estrela cathedral, a group of musicians played the 12-string guitar which traditionally accompanies the melancholic fado music.

Fans clapped and waved white kerchiefs as her coffin, wrapped in a Portuguese flag, was carried out of the church for the funeral cortege.

Tens of thousands of people lined the 1km route from the church to Lisbon's Prazeres cemetery.

Amalia da Piedade Rebordao Rodrigues was born to a poor, working class family and rose to become the "Ambassador of Fado".

[ image: Crowds lined the street for the funeral cortege]
Crowds lined the street for the funeral cortege
A dark, sultry beauty, she took the sad and haunting traditional music - fado translates as fate - out of Lisbon's taverns and put it on an international stage.

With her head thrown back and eyes closed, she cut a dramatic stage presence and often moved her audiences to tears.

Amalia made hundreds of records and numerous films and continued singing and packing theatres in Portugal well into her 70s.

Prime Minister Guterres spoke for many when he said: "Amalia Rodrigues was the voice of the Portuguese soul."

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06 Oct 99 | Europe
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