Notre-Dame de Paris adaptations

Discussion of musicals other than Les Misérables.
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silverwhistle
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NDdP stage versions

Postby silverwhistle » Tue Aug 03, 2010 1:03 pm

Hugo's own libretto for the opera, La Esméralda, by Louise Bertin. (Unfortunately, as maimed by censorship and operatic conventions as some later film adaptations were. Oh, Vic, were you so desperate to see it on stage in any form?!!)
Play by Paul Foucher (French)
Play by Edward Fitzball (English, using Esmeralda title)
- Entends-tu? je t'aime! cria-t-il encore.
- Quel amour! dit la malheureuse en frémissant.
Il reprit: - L'amour d'un damné.

Victor Hugo, Notre Dame de Paris

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silverwhistle
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Notre-Dame de Paris adaptations

Postby silverwhistle » Tue Aug 03, 2010 11:53 pm

La Esméralda (Victor Hugo/Louise Bertin). CD available. Lovely music, but due to royal censorship and operatic conventions, Victor messes up his own plot and characters. This is where Phœbus first appears as romantic hero, but at least he dies at the end. Review and picture from 2008 revival here.

Esmeralda (Alexander Dargomyzhsky). As yet, I have no plot information. Available on CD from Russia. (I've ordered it on eBay.)

Esmeralda (Arthur Goring-Thomas). Again does weird things to the plot, this time with Quasimodo's death. No CD available to my knowledge.

Notre Dame (Franz Schmidt), More weird plot changes (Gringoire stabs Phœbus, then throws himself into the river?!), but lovely Romantic music. There is a budget CD.

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Mod edit: this is a merge of the "NDdP musicals," "NDdP operas," and "NDdP ballets" threads.
- Entends-tu? je t'aime! cria-t-il encore.
- Quel amour! dit la malheureuse en frémissant.
Il reprit: - L'amour d'un damné.

Victor Hugo, Notre Dame de Paris

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MmeBahorel
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Re: NDdP stage versions

Postby MmeBahorel » Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:59 am

It's Victor Hugo - if he thought he could "coach" a hot soprano in just how to play Esmeralda, I have no doubt it was the guiding factor in his decision to go forward *g*.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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silverwhistle
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Re: NDdP stage versions

Postby silverwhistle » Wed Aug 04, 2010 1:10 am

MmeBahorel wrote:It's Victor Hugo - if he thought he could "coach" a hot soprano in just how to play Esmeralda, I have no doubt it was the guiding factor in his decision to go forward *g*.

Maybe some picture research is called for: who created the role, and how hot was she?!
- Entends-tu? je t'aime! cria-t-il encore.
- Quel amour! dit la malheureuse en frémissant.
Il reprit: - L'amour d'un damné.

Victor Hugo, Notre Dame de Paris

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silverwhistle
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NDdP Ballets

Postby silverwhistle » Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:10 pm

Since the 19C, there have been several NDdP ballets, beginning with Jules Perrot's La Esméralda (score by Cesare Pugni), which became a showcase for numerous stars, from Carlotta Grisi and Fanny Elssler onward. This is available on DVD in a production by the Musorgski (aka Mikhailovskii or Malyi) Theatre Ballet of St Petersburg. It's very old-fashioned in style (lots of mime) and pretty to look at, but does some rather odd things with order of events. However, it does include Pierre and a very sweet goat. Unlike the veritable bloodbath of the novel, there is only one definite casualty, Esméralda herself (it's not made explicit whether Phœbus lives or dies).
It is available on DVD.
It starts on YouTube here (the poster has mistakenly labelled it as by the Bol'shoi, but it isn't).

In the 1950s, it was given a makeover, with additional music and more book-plot. This production has been revived in Moscow at the Stanislavskii Music Theatre. (Hurrah! It includes Pâquette!)

In 1965, Roland Petit gave us Notre Dame de Paris, to a Maurice Jarre score. This is stunning: it's much longer than La Esméralda, and pares down the story. There are no decorative scenes and character dances. This ballet has only 4 named characters, besides the chorus. It focusses on the 4 principles: Esméralda, Claude, Quasimodo (whose deformity is created through movement, not prosthetics) and Phœbus. It's intense, dramatic, sexy and tragic. There is a superb DVD available of the 1996 production, starring Isabelle Guérin, Laurent Hilaire, Nicolas LeRiche and Manuel Legris. Guérin's Esméralda is more like Petit's ballet-Carmen than the dim innocent of the book, and the ballet works better because of this. Her pas-de-trois with Claude and Phœbus (which represents the brothel scene) is sensational, as are her pas-de-deux with Quasimodo and then with Claude (sort-of the Porte Rouge). For hardcore Hugo-nauts, the set designs are based on Victor's own ink sketches of the cathedral façade. The stained-glass inspired costumes and make-up (bright colours and black lines) are by Yves Saint-Laurent.
Parts are on YouTube, starting here.
And here's some eye-candy! Laurent Hilaire is my favourite Claude: the eyes, the cheekbones – and at the time of filming, he was 34, so roughly the right age! (He is a stunner, and I also have him in Le Parc, La Bayadère, and a couple of other ballets, and the documentary Étoiles!)
Image
Image

There have been other ballets. Northern Ballet Theatre did a Hunchback of Notre Dame, for which the score (by Phillip Feeney) is available on CD, but no video. There's also a Royal Swedish Opera Ballet, Ringaren i Notre-Dame, from which pictures may be seen here.
- Entends-tu? je t'aime! cria-t-il encore.
- Quel amour! dit la malheureuse en frémissant.
Il reprit: - L'amour d'un damné.

Victor Hugo, Notre Dame de Paris

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NDdP Musicals

Postby silverwhistle » Thu Aug 12, 2010 12:29 pm

There have been several of these, but I'm only familiar with the scores of three.
The Plamondon/Cocciante NDdP is splendid, and – despite some updating of plot elements – has more of the book in it than most other adaptations. The songs are great, but I remain ambivalent over the abstract staging. Part of me likes the bold, stripped-down qualities of it; part of me misses a more mediæval setting and costuming (something along the lines of the 1976 BBC non-musical version, or the Roland Petit ballet would have worked well).

There are a few points where the updating jarred, though, such as identifying the denizens of the Cour des Miracles (dangerous cut-throats, beggars and brigands) with modern 'sans-papiers'/refugees (for whom one tends to feel sympathy). Morally, that's problematic. Also, we lost the irony of Quasimodo attacking and killing Esméralda's friends from the Cour when he's defending the Cathedral: it's replaced by straightforward police/army brutality against the crowd. On the whole, Quasimodo's rôle is expanded and made more heroic.

The English translation is dire, though: bland, almost as if it's embarrassed by the passion of the original. (The translator is Céline Dion's English-language lyricist, and it shows…) I append my own translation of my favourite song, Je sens ma vie qui bascule/Tu vas me détruire:
I feel my life’s crashing down
Towards ground I don’t know:
I see the crowd shrink from me.

I walk through the streets where
I am a man stripped bare,
A man stripped bare…

A passion wild as a storm
Is raging inside my veins:
My reason’s wrecked on the rocks –
It’s driving me half-insane.
I’m diving out of my depth
In sweetness; swept far off course;
Slowly I let myself drown
With no restraint or remorse.

You will destroy me,
You will destroy me,
And I shall damn your name
Until my life is ended.

Refrain:
You will destroy me,
You will destroy me,
I should have known my fate
From that first day,
From that first night.


My sin and my obsession,
Desire tormenting my heart,
It casts me down into shame,
It rips my whole world apart.
Cheap little dealer in dreams –
Yet I would risk everything
To watch your skirt rise and fall
In dancing, and hear you sing.

I thought myself winter-cold,
But spring’s green sap rises higher;
I thought myself iron-hard
Against the heat of desire,
But now my flesh is aflame
All through a stranger’s dark eyes:
The deep, black secrets they keep,
More than the moon in the skies.

The official English-language production also spoils the lead into this song, by replacing Claude's tortured "Je sens ma vie qui bascule…" with some trite lines from Quasimodo about being the only one who really loves Esméralda…

The Elmer Hawkes musical, which has the HoND title, is rather different: a low-budget touring US musical, with some of the cast doubling rôles (Claude/Clopin, which does my head in slightly in a Jekyll-&-Hyde sort of way). It deserves to be better-known. It is even more book-based (Pâquette figures in it, with the whole baby-swapping plotline). Some of the songs are beautiful, but again, it seems to draw back from the passion of the novel. Alchemy is a gorgeous ballad (and well done for getting the alchemy in!), but pales next to Tu vas me détruire or Être prêtre et aimer une femme.

The Disney-based Der Glöckner von Notre-Dame has a decent score, but it's still too closely tethered to its animated source, even with the love-story being given a tragic ending to make it slightly more 'grown-up'. I know Vic started it with his self-bowdlerising opera (but he had the excuse of working under a regime that had censorship), but I can't accept Phœbus as a romantic lead. The talking gargoyles work even less well in a live-action context.

There are a couple of interesting concept albums worth checking out:
Quaterna Réquiem's Quasimodo is Brazilian Early Music-influenced prog-rock, and is very beautiful.
Alec R Costandinos's HoND is weirdly 1970s (Quasimodo-goes-disco), but actually makes better use of the Lasciate ogni speranza chapter than any other adaptation in the track Dom Claude's Confession.
More information (and even some downloadables!) are online for these, if you Google for them: I don't think they are currently on commercial release.
- Entends-tu? je t'aime! cria-t-il encore.
- Quel amour! dit la malheureuse en frémissant.
Il reprit: - L'amour d'un damné.

Victor Hugo, Notre Dame de Paris

Ulkis
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Re: NDdP Musicals

Postby Ulkis » Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:42 pm

The songs are great, but I remain ambivalent over the abstract staging.


Yeah, I think if I saw the DVD first I would have been too distracted by the odd staging. I mean, swinging Gringoire in a bag? What is that?

Part of me likes the bold, stripped-down qualities of it; part of me misses a more mediæval setting and costuming (something along the lines of the 1976 BBC non-musical version, or the Roland Petit ballet would have worked well).


I agree here too, although the shallow part of me admits to enjoying Bruno Pelletier walking around in a long blue coat.

I really like Tu vas me detruire, but Etre prete et aimer une femme leaves me cold. And of course, Belle is an amazing song. Also, is it blasephemy that I don't really like Vivre?

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Re: NDdP Musicals

Postby silverwhistle » Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:46 pm

Ulkis wrote:I really like Tu vas me detruire, but Etre prete et aimer une femme leaves me cold.

It makes some good use of actual lines from the novel. We could have done with more of that.
And of course, Belle is an amazing song. Also, is it blasephemy that I don't really like Vivre?

No: I don't like Vivre, either. It seems out of place.
I love Le Cour des Miracles and Val d'Amour.
- Entends-tu? je t'aime! cria-t-il encore.
- Quel amour! dit la malheureuse en frémissant.
Il reprit: - L'amour d'un damné.

Victor Hugo, Notre Dame de Paris

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Re: NDdP Musicals

Postby Ulkis » Thu Aug 12, 2010 9:11 pm

Oh yes, those are two of my favorites too, especially Val d'amour.

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Re: NDdP Musicals

Postby hazellwood » Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:20 pm

Right. Well, I have a copy of something and Esmeralda wears a sparkly green dress. Can I assume that this is the first one? (And the abstract staging and... stuff.)

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Re: NDdP Musicals

Postby silverwhistle » Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:23 pm

hazellwood wrote:Right. Well, I have a copy of something and Esmeralda wears a sparkly green dress. Can I assume that this is the first one? (And the abstract staging and... stuff.)

That's the one!
- Entends-tu? je t'aime! cria-t-il encore.
- Quel amour! dit la malheureuse en frémissant.
Il reprit: - L'amour d'un damné.

Victor Hugo, Notre Dame de Paris

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Re: NDdP Musicals

Postby hazellwood » Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:36 pm

silverwhistle wrote:
hazellwood wrote:Right. Well, I have a copy of something and Esmeralda wears a sparkly green dress. Can I assume that this is the first one? (And the abstract staging and... stuff.)

That's the one!

Alright then, thank you! I began watching it and my expression literally went from =D to =) to O.o to O__O in the first three songs. But it's cool, I like it.

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Re: NDdP Musicals

Postby silverwhistle » Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:47 pm

hazellwood wrote:Alright then, thank you! I began watching it and my expression literally went from =D to =) to O.o to O__O in the first three songs. But it's cool, I like it.

Yes! It has some wonderful songs, and great performances (Daniel Lavoie, Bruno Pelletier and Luck Mervil are special favourites).
But it takes a lot to get used to Phœbus's 'armour' being a baggy knitted pullover…
- Entends-tu? je t'aime! cria-t-il encore.
- Quel amour! dit la malheureuse en frémissant.
Il reprit: - L'amour d'un damné.

Victor Hugo, Notre Dame de Paris

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Re: NDdP Musicals

Postby Roses for Ophelia » Fri Aug 13, 2010 5:30 am

I like the translation, but i feel like it doesn't match up exactly with the music in the first part. to be fair, i played the english version when i was reading this, and i feel like you missed a verse in the beginning. maybe i should get the full version in french.
Rivers belong where they can ramble...

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silverwhistle
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Re: NDdP Musicals

Postby silverwhistle » Fri Aug 13, 2010 11:31 am

Roses for Ophelia wrote:I like the translation, but i feel like it doesn't match up exactly with the music in the first part. to be fair, i played the english version when i was reading this, and i feel like you missed a verse in the beginning. maybe i should get the full version in french.


I used the French version, which has an introductory recitative:
Je sens ma vie qui bascule
Vers une terre inconnue
Je vois la foule qui recule

Quand je marche dans la rue
Je suis un homme mis à nu
Un homme mis à nu

before going into the song:
Cet océan de passion
Qui déferle dans mes veines
Qui cause ma déraison
Ma déroute, ma déveine…

In the English version (and sadly, in the Paris Mogador production), the recitative is given to Quasimodo, with different words.
I didn't include all the repeats of "You will destroy me", because we know where they fit.
- Entends-tu? je t'aime! cria-t-il encore.
- Quel amour! dit la malheureuse en frémissant.
Il reprit: - L'amour d'un damné.

Victor Hugo, Notre Dame de Paris


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