THE DUTCH PIAF
A light went out on the Zeedijk, Hartjesdagen, de Nacht van de Romantiek, (the Night of Romance) Fifi Lʼamour, singer and bon vivant pur sang (= someone who enjoys life to the fullest, hedonist?) was always there, together with her husband Rodolfo Radissant.
She with her extraverted presence and impressive/commanding voice, him with his accordion or on the piano.
On Tuesday Fifi Lʼamour passed away, she was 58 years old. She left her life in a flash of lightning, just like she wanted. Getting old and falling ill were no options for her. She discovered recently she had oesophageal cancer. But that didnʼt get her down/she didnʼt give up.She was working hard on conjuring tricks – in case she lost her voice – with which she would still be able to perform with the illusionists of variety show restaurant Casablanca on the Zeedijk.
Casablanca was her living room where she performed for 10 years. On the 5th of July she performed for the last time. Ill, but full of dedication/devotion, her husband Ravissant said: “ If they offered her 5 euros for a performance she would still say yes. Then I would say: Add two more zeros.” Her friend Astrid Paulus, from Casablanca, said: “ If there were only two people in the audience, she sang like there were 80.” In honour of Fifi, 2 of her home made costumes are exhibitited in Casablanca. LʼAmours repertoire was extensive. From Piaf and Brel via the Yiddisch song to the Jordanian ʻchansonʼ.
Originally Lucienne Raphael, her real name, came from Australia. Her father was a documentary maker for ABC. Fifiʼs mother was still riding motherbikes with her girlfriends at age 70. When LʼAmour was on stage, she was a star. With her expressive eyes, her expressive face, her whole body in motion.
“She was the Dutch Piaf”, says violinist Lucas Amor, with whom she and Ravissant frequently performed. “ She sang brilliantly in French. They sometimes referred to us as cousins: LʼAmour and Amor.” Ravissant met her for the first time in Amorʼs car. It was love at first sight. They travelled and performed from Berlin – where Fifi once performed with soulmate Nina Hagen – to Australia.
Even in the smallest of theatres Lʼamour would sing the stars out of the sky. Ravissant: “Once we performed in a small theatre in Zwaagdijk: LʼIdiot Du Village. The owner asked:” What are you guys after?/What do you guys want? And we said: the same as here, but in Amsterdam.” It became The Palace and later Casablanca.
LʼAmour was someone with extensive knowledge (erudite). She studied history in India, she read a book every day and she sang in 9 different languages. Ramses Shaffy saw in her a kindred spirit. They spent a lot of time together. Next week Fifi lʼAmour will have her final performance in the tent of Casablanca on Tour. Itʼs going to be a party like she would have wanted, with Dolly Bellefleur as Master of Ceremonies and artists paying their last respects to her. She is laid out at home in one of her home made, extraverted creations.
A cold funeral home is not her style. Ravissant will show a film in which he and an American cellist play a piece shortly after her death. The sorrow is great, but music crosses all boundaries.