So often in adaptations of The Hunchback Notre Dame, Fleur-de-Lys gets shafted. Either she is not there, an extra or just in a few scenes and with in those scenes she is pretty much a rich bitch. The 1956 version had her in one scene were she was soften a touch though still catty. Notre Dame de Paris however took a character that really isn’t a huge character in the book and fleshed her out and gave her some depth.
Fleur-de-Lys is the smallest role in the musical has she only has three songs, though she appears in more numbers. The minimal songs she get do reveal everything about her character and her arch.
Unlike the book, Fleur-de-Lys is much younger. I believe in the book she was twenty-four whereas in Notre Dame de Paris she is fourteen. More than likely this change is based on Julie Zenatti’s age at the time she played the role, which was seventeen.
Zenatti said in that Fleur-de-Lys loves Phoebus with a passion, which is true but her love for Phoebus is not as romanticized as Esmeralda. She knows that he is handsome and spouts out romantic lines but he is also a scoundrel and a soldier.
In the Phoebus post, I mentioned that Phoebus was a double minion to both Frollo and Fleur-de-Lys and that is because at some point during the musical Fleur-de-Lys snaps and demands that Phoebus ensures Esmeralda’s death. The manner which she tells this to Phoebus is vastly different between the original version and all the subsequent versions.
In the original version, Fleur-de-Lys snaps and sings her big number, La Monture, to herself and asks Phoebus to kill Esmeralda. He overhears this and with the next number tells her that he is returning to her and basically agreeing to her request. Very personally, I like the original version of La Monture, it has a desperation and venom. It also means that Phoebus is taking some agency with the death of Esmeralda.
In other versions, Phoebus asks Fleur-de-Lys to take him back as his unfaithful heart is all better. Fleur-de-Lys then very sexually asks him to kill Esmeralda. She honey-potted him. He can’t really refuse her after that. I get why they changed it, as it makes Fleur-de-Lys look more powerful and in- control and second it just make for a better on stage show number. However I do think that someone who desperate and at her wit’s end asking for someone death is more interesting than someone who is forcing someone and using sex to get what they want. Also I’m not sure why Fleur-de-Lys wants Esmeralda to die as much in other versions, it just seems like she testing Phoebus more that she is going out her mind with jealousy, but that is just me.
Fleur-de-Lys is also Esmeralda’ s foil. Where Esmeralda is earthy, sensual, innocent and exotic, Fleur-de-Lys is colder, calculating, jaded, polished and has a fairer European beauty. This is in the book but is because Fleur-de-Lys is bigger in Notre Dame de Paris the difference between the two ladies is clearer.
Despite having the smallest role in Notre Dame de Paris , Fleur-de-Lys is still quite well fleashed out and really compelling.
Next Time – Moving in to the songsFollow thehunchblog