Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Musical "Notre Dame De Paris"

A video clip of the live performance of "Belle" from the musical Notre Dame De Paris. One of my favorite scenes.

In the summer of 2000, we vacationed in London,England and managed to see a few musicals in London's West End theatre district. Mama Mia,The Lion King and Notre Dame De Paris. Although, the Lion King was visually entertaining, it was our least favorite of the 3. Dan's favorite was Mama Mia. My favorite was Notre Dame De Paris. The english production. The music and lyrics were moving. The entire cast's performance was outstanding. I usually leave a show with one or two character favorites, however, in this case, there were several. This was the first musical in my opinion where the male vocalists were equally strong and in 2 cases, stronger. The 2 male vocalists were Steve Balsamo, a British musican-singer who played the role of Phoebus, Captain of the Kings archers and Bruno Pelletier who played Gringoire the poet. In fact, the audience that evening agreed with me. Both men received standing ovations after their solos during the show. The stage sets weren't elaborate but effective. The choreography was amazing. Many of the production's dancers also performed for the Cirque du Soleil. Acrobats were dazzling. I purchased both the music CD soundtrack and the DVD of a live on stage performance in the original language French. This musical debuted briefly in Las Vegas at the Paris Hotel around the same time. Unfortunately, it did not have a successful reception. However,in Canada,Europe and parts of Asia, the show was a smash hit. I personally don't think Las Vegas was the appropriate venue for this show. It did not have a lot of the stage set glitz and glamour most people go to see when in Las Vegas. This was a musical that focused more on the story and music as oppose to the special effects. I believe had the shows producer opened in New York or Chicago, the response would have been positive. Sadly, at this time, there are no talks of the production returning to the U.S. I hope that changes.

You can purchase the live musical on DVD by clicking here:
Notre Dame De Paris Musical DVD

From Wikipedia:
Notre Dame de Paris is a French-Canadian musical which debuted on 16 September 1998 in Paris. It is based upon the novel Notre Dame de Paris by the French novelist Victor Hugo. The music was composed by Riccardo Cocciante (also known as Richard Cocciante) and the lyrics are by Luc Plamondon.

Since its debut, it has played throughout France, South Korea, Belgium, Switzerland and Canada. A shorter version in English was performed in 2000 in Las Vegas, Nevada (USA) and a full-length London production, also in English, ran for a seventeen months. The show has also been translated into Italian, Korean, Russian, Catalan, German, Czech, Spanish and Belarusian. It has also been translated independently into (but never performed in) Swedish and Armenian.

“Notre Dame de Paris”, according to the Guinness Book of Records, had the most successful first year of any musical ever. The score has been recorded at least seven times to date (2007): the original French concept album, which featured Israeli singer Achinoam Nini (aka Noa) as Esmeralda was followed by a live, complete recording of the original Paris cast. A complete recording of the score in Italian was made, along with a single disc of excerpts in Spanish from the Madrid production. The original London cast album featured several of the original Paris stars, but only preserved a fraction of the score in English. The orchestral group I Fiamminghi recorded a CD of melodies from the score. A complete set of instrumental backing tracks has also been released.

London Cast:

Tina Arena : Esméralda

Garou : Quasimodo

Daniel Lavoie : Frollo

Bruno Pelletier : Gringoire

Steve Balsamo : Phoebus

Luck Mervil : Clopin

Natasha St-Pier : Fleur-de-Lys

The original story of the Hunchback of Notre Dame written by Victor Hugo

The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1831
Original title: Notre-Dame de Paris

Hugo started working on The Hunchback of Notre-Dame in 1829. He had a contract with the publisher Gosselin, stating that it should be finished that same year. But other projects came in between and Hugo was granted respites again and again until Gosselin in the summer of 1830 finally demanded the novel to be completed in February the following year. Hugo bought ink, a grey woolen robe and stuck to his desk, refusing to go out - with the exception of nightly visits to Notre-Dame - and forbidding any disturbance.

The set of the story was the church Notre-Dame on the Île de la Cité. Hugo had studied it well, spending hours examining its spiral staircases, hidden chambers and inscriptions. He had also read old writings, records and law texts. Although he laid stress on the importance of the plot, he was determined to make its framework historically correct.

He stuck by his desk for six months and by the beginning of January, it was finished - just within the time limit set by Gosselin. It was Hugo's first full-length novel and on 16 March it appeared in the bookshops.

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame was an instant success and it soon made Hugo the most famous living writer in Europe. Spread and translated across the continent, another effect of the novel was evident; the old, neglected and into disrepair fallen church of Notre-Dame started to attract thousands of tourists, who of course were disappointed when the impressing Gothic Lady Hugo had described turned out to be a manhandled old woman, tossed away in the corner of Île de la Cité. But the fame Hugo brought her made the City of Paris realize that something had to be done and in 1845 a much-needed restoration that would take 19 years began.

The novel also had an effect on French architecture; pre-renaissance buildings that had been considered vulgar, were suddenly revered and a committee for the preservation of historic monuments was founded. Hugo started a revolution in the field of aesthetics. He had always seen the front structure of the church as the capital H of his last name - now the world was beginning to see it too. In 1837, when the newly arrived queen-to-be Duchess of Orléans met Hugo, she told him: "I have visited your Notre-Dame".

Today, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is regarded as a standard classic and it must be one of the most adapted stories for cinema and television. In addition, the bell ringer, Quasimodo, has become a horror classic - although anyone that reads the novel realizes that Frollo represents the horror. And perhaps the English title - which Hugo himself hated - is to blame for putting too much emphasis on the hunchback.

Information on Victor Hugo visit:
The Life and Work of Victor Hugo

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