“Through you, I will live twice.” Procópio to Bibi.
“My dad was carried atop shoulders when he arrived in cities. Only on television would people later attain the same phenomenon, but in the theater no one else.”
“Making money is one thing, but to make a living in the theater is another. Procópio Ferreira made various fortunes that he threw away one by one.”
“I want to introduce my family to you: Aida, my mother, chorister of the Belasco Review Co; my aunt Dora, contortionist; my cousin, trapezist; grand-uncles, acrobats, the Queirolos; the Clowns Chicharrão, Chic-Chic, and Torresmo; my cousin Verdaguer—comedian; my uncles from Pampa—the glorious Podestas—founders of the theater in Argentina; my maternal great-grandparents—who met singing the opera ‘Marina’ in Montevideo; my maternal grandfather, the conductor Antonio Izquierdo; my father, Procópio Ferreira, who you all know and with whom you have laughed a lot and grandma Mama Irma who, without artistic aptitude, rented a place in the theater to watch the life.” Bibi’s words in Piaf's playbill
After La Locandiera, Bibi worked with her father in Uma noite de amor, by Siegfried Gayer, translation by Pedro Cabral, playing Procópio’s lover, which debuted on 4/4/1041. The reviews were also very favorable, praising her.
Another play which Bibi acted in as a part of Procópio’s Company was Tudo por voce (All for You) by Jose Wanderley and Mario Lago which debuted on 4/18/1941.
Bibi’s childhood and adolescence had strong connections to art. First, accompanying her parent’s careers. And later, as a student of the Anglo-American School soon after distinguishing herself for her brightness and ease in learning. At 7 years old, she was already dancing at the Municipal Theater in Rio de Janeiro as a part of the opera cast. She was one of the little children soldiers in Bizet’s opera, Carmen. At 10 years old, she graduated in piano and was beginning her first compositions. At 14, she already had more than 10 songs published. She studied ballet at the Municipal Theater as a student of Maria Olenewa. At this time, Bibi knew that she would be a ballerina. At this point, she already played violin and also gave guitar lessons, in addition to being the queen of family parties, where she would dance and sang. Cesar Ladeira heard her and took her to Mayrink Veiga Radio.
“What I really am is a reviewer. I learned lots of technical things in England. However, almost everything that I know, I learned with two professors. One was a mambembe (a travelling theater). Oh, how I have travelled around Brazil! I have already made a sketch with there was never even a circus. The other professor was my father, Procópio Ferreira. No one understands the theater audience like him.”
Everything Began in the Circus
“But who we learn to make from—to represent comedy—is the audience. They are the verdict—they laugh and clap at the right moment, or not, as well at the right time. Because of this, the premiere night is, for me, like the first night of making love—full of surprises.”
In Procópio Ferreira's Company (1941 - 1943)
Living with her mother in Rio de Janeiro, Bibi received a telegram from her father that simply stated, “Would you like to debut with me at the Serrador?” Before sending the response, Procópio appeared saying, “My Girl, the few things that I have seen you do onstage leave me at peace.” And Bibi debuted officially in the Procópio Ferreira Company, acting in Goldoni’s classic La Locandiera, which Gastão Pereira da Silva, in his translation, changed to the title O Inimigo das Mulheres, in the role of Mirandolina, the hostess. It was on February 28, 1941 at the Serrador Theater in Rio de Janeiro.
Bibi is a succulent fruit from a lush tree, from which expressive artists of various areas were born. From her maternal side, Bibi comes from the Queirolo family— four generations of success in the Brazilian and international circus, whose tradition began with the lyrical tenor Giacomo Queirolo, a singer from a circus company. His son, Jose Queirolo, was a juggler, an acrobat, and a jumper. His grandson, Alcides Queirolo, the Ripolim, was one of the funniest clowns of Brazil. The big names from the circus family of the Queirolos were Chic-Chic and Harris. Chicharrão, another Queirolo and one of the greatest Brazilian clowns of all time, went to school and had in Piolim a grand rival. None of the circus masters can confirm with certainty how many of the top comics are from the family or that had studied with them.
Giacomo Queirolo, a Uruguayan singer, won a very tough scholarship to study in Italy for the amazing quality of his voice. On the night he was to leave, a recital given by him enchanted a young woman who, with her warm applause, made him give up on his trip and get married to her. They had eleven children, all with enormous artistic vocation and talent, who would form the foundation of the future Queirolo Brothers Circus, of international fame. Only one of Giacomo Queirolo’s daughters, Irma, never took part in the artistic numbers, only there taking care of her siblings. In a trip of the troupe to Spain, Irma met and fell in love with the composer Antonio Izquierdo, a descendent of Antonio Podestá, the founder of the Argentineam theater. They got married and had a daughter, Aida. The family moved to Buenos Aires. The composer came to Rio de Janeiro for some performances at the Lírico and Joao Caetano Theaters. Missing his daughter, then 14 years old, he brought her to spend vacation in Rio. She met and fell in love with Procópio Ferreira, the biggest name in Brazilian theater, both of them Bibi’s parents.
“Bibi Ferreira, a delightful girl of three years of age, was for many months, the star of the Eulegio Velasco Company. She would go out to sing and dance together with Maria Caballe, and the audience cheered for her, because she did all of her numbers with the rhythm and security of an artist with many years of practice. She is a true prodigy, whose break with the cast was one of the great heartbreaks of Eulegio Velasco, who had offered the parents of the child a contract that would make any prime actress of her cast jealous. Bibi is the daughter of the well-known Brazilian actor and his legitimate wife Aida Queirolo, who for many years was one of the beautiful faces of the Velasco Company. Now, Bibi is resting, since her father took her out of the Review to dedicate herself to Brazilian comedy.” (La Nacion, Buenos Aires, 1925)
Bibi was predestined for the theater. She was a child surrounded by the theater: her father, her mother, her godmother, her godfather, friends, etc. At 24 days old, Bibi debuted at the Sao Jose Theater in Rio de Janeiro, being taken onstage by her godmother, the actress Abigail Maia, to replace a doll what was misplaced in the play Manhãs de Sol (Sunny Mornings), whose author was her godfather Oduvaldo Vianna. Bibi’s mother and father were also in the play. Professionally, she began at 3 years old in Santiago, Chile in the Velasco Review Company, to whose cast she belonged for two consecutive and successful years. Many believed that she was a dwarf and not a child with such premature talent.
Procópio Ferreira: father and mentor
Telegram for Bibi (1941)