Capping her long and successful career, Brazilian supermodel and national icon Gisele Bundchen stole the show at the Rio Olympics’s opening ceremony on Friday night as she sashayed across the Maracana Stadium to strains of popular bossa nova track “Garota de Ipanema”, or “The Girl from Ipanema” performed by the original composer’s grandson.
Clad in a long-sleeved, gold-sequin spangled shimmering dress, Gisele essayed her most ambitious catwalk across the stadium, with the trail of her 500 feet walk, formed into contours of iconic works by one of Brazil’s greatest architects, Oscar Niemeyer.
“Tall and tan and young and lovely/The girl from Ipanema goes walking/And when she passes, each one she passes/Goes ‘A-a-a-h’/When she walks she’s like a samba/When she walks, she’s like a samba/That swings so cool and sways so gentle/That when she passes, each one she passes/Goes ‘A-a-a-h’,” seemed written for the 36-year-old model, despite she not being from Ipanema, a swanky beachfront locale in Rio.
Earlier reports had hinted Gisele would play a mugging victim before the young thief is chased and apprehended, but it seems the organisers had second thoughts and chose a better option for her appearance.
“The Girl from Ipanema”, written in 1962, was inspired by Ipanema resident Heloisa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, then 17, who would daily stroll past the Veloso bar-cafe, from where music composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, popularly known as Tom Joabim, and lyrics writer Vinicius de Moraes saw her. However, Heloisa was not always going to the beach (“each day when she walks to the sea” as per the song), but in the everyday course of her life.
Moraes later wrote that she seemed “the paradigm of the young Carioca (slang for Rio residents): a golden teenage girl, a mixture of flower and mermaid, full of light and grace, the sight of whom is also sad, in that she carries with her, on her route to the sea, the feeling of youth that fades, of the beauty that is not ours alone-it, is a gift of life in its beautiful and melancholic constant ebb and flow”.
It became internationally famous when an English version, with American jazz musician Stan Getz and Brazilian singer and songwriter Joao Gilberto, collaborated on the album “Getz/Gilberto”. This won the album of the year award at the Grammys in 1965 (and introduced bossa nova to the world), while the song itself, rendered in English by Gilberto’s wife, Astrud, won the award for the record of the year.