Isis de Oliveira and the Radionovela


The radio-actress Isis de Oliveira, who between the years 1940 and 1960 was one of the great names of Rádio Nacional do Rio de Janeiro died on Tuesday (May 7th), at age 91, in Niterói (RJ).

Isis de Oliveira was the stage name of Ivete Savelli, born March 18, 1922. She joined the Rádio Nacional in 1941 after winning a radio-theater test along with actor Altivo Diniz, in a talent show put on by the station. For over 20 years she participated, often as lead actress, in soap operas and dozens of Nacional plays at the time at the radio station with the largest audience in Brazil and the most important in Latin America.

The actress was married to the Nacional announcer Jairo Argileu. In 1964, Argileu was among the dozens of station staff members fired for political reasons by the military dictatorship. Isis remained with Nacional until 1972, when she left the radio for two years (to practice law). In 1974, she returned and joined Radio Tupi in Rio, where she worked until 1979. – Source (PT)

(from Direito de Nascer)

The Radionovela and Direito de Nascer

The first radio transmission in Brazil went on the air on September 7th, 1922, though radios were expensive so it took a good long while for their price to go down. When they were more affordable, there wasn’t much of a reason to actually buy one even when one-time, weekly plays (one series of single plays from the late 1930s was called Teatro em Casa) were recorded for the new medium. It took bringing the news to the airwaves for widespread consumption to occur. Once the people were hooked, Brazilian radio stations in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro began making radionovelas. Since the early 30s, Cuba had been broadcasting them, too, and many of Brazil’s first shows were actually Cuban, adapted for Brazilian audiences. The first of its kind in Brazil was Em Busca de Felicidade (In Search of Happiness), in which Isis de Oliveira participated.

Considered the largest success of all time (throughout Latin America), the radionovela Direito de Nascer (Right to be Born) went on the air in 1951 and stayed at the top during its 3 years on the air (a long time, considering some radionovelas had storylines that only lasted 2 months). According to Wikipedia, it was so omnipresent that it was popularly known as “Direito de Encher” (Right to Fill Up, or maybe more likely, Right to Be Annoyed).

With the arrival of the 1960s, the radio gave way to the television and so it’s fairly safe to say that the newer generations grew up without the ability to put their imaginations to work. I say this because television, like film, hand-feeds the viewer while radio, like literature, has the power to light up the viewer’s imagination.

Here’s a snippet of Isis de Oliveira on Direito de Nascer, which was remade by TV Tupi twice in 1954 and 1978, redone for Mexican audiences in the 1980s, and again redone in Brazil for SBT in 2001.


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