Bruno Pelletier as Gringoire singing Fatalité Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Bruno Pelletier as Gringoire singing Fatalité

Before we concluded with the review proper of Notre Dame de Paris I want to discuss the editing on the original DVD. For the most part, the cuts and shots are serviceable. They showcase the musical by showing the the singers and stage in a a fairly balanced manner and it moves things along. In the practical capacity it does its job. However the editing at times tries to be artsy or at the least interesting with overlays.

Overlay of Phoebus Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Overlay of Phoebus

These overlays are dumb. Either the expressions are just bad like the overlay of Phoebus between Beau comme le Soleil and Dechire or they are not executed well has with the overlay of Gringoire at the end of Le Temps de Cathedral where it has a harsh line at the bottom that should have been softened. It’s also small and off to the side of the shot so it looks more silly than intentional. There are also these kind of overlay through Le Temps and the run time of the DVD. Florence has a lot of these type of overlays too.

Overlay of Gringore Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Overlay of Gringoire

Then we have the subtitles. The are not that great on the translation end of things. There are a lot of youtube comments just about how the subtitles are wrong and typically they blame the person who uploaded the video. No, the official subtitles on the DVD are bad.

However subtitles are hard thing to get right, one has to get the idea of words in a short time and make it quick to read. It’s more of a art form than a science. If you don’t speak French they are fine so for most people it’s not a big issue and if you do speak decent French you need the subtitles. So it’s just a youtube thing but really you need not waste your time complaining on about the subtitles, complain about the overlays.

French Original Cast Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Original Cast

We have been discussing Notre Dame de Paris’ style for awhile, not just in the look of the show but in the music too. What I never said about the show’s music in so many words is that unlike other musicals in the world, Notre Dame de Paris has a decidedly “pop” take on the music.

Gringoire singing Le Portes de Paris Bruno Pelletier Notre dame de paris picture image

Gringoire singing Le Portes de Paris

This is made clearer by the fact that of the original cast only Daniel Lavoie  and Bruno Pelletier have been in other musicals. They are singers not exactly stage performers. This is not the case with other casts but it’s interesting to note.

Original Cast Belle NOtre dame de Paris picture image

Original Cast Belle

But does this mean? Why does Notre Dame de Paris have such a different look and vibe compared to other musicals of the world? Well I’m sure it has been mentioned that for a while, in France musical were not that fashionable and Notre Dame de Paris brought them back. Before 1998 people didn’t go to them and they didn’t perform them. I really can’t site the source that claimed this as it on wiki with no source and there was something in a program about the behind the scenes of Notre Dame de Paris that mentioned too. However looking at French produced musicals and looking at the years they came, I found there is something like 51 French Musicals and of though 51 shows only 8 were produced before Notre Dame de Paris with the closest one before being produced 1990, a good eight years before Notre Dame de Paris. So yes, it’s true.

Esmeralda and Quasimodo in Notre Dame Ma Maison c'est ta maison garou helene Segara Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Esmeralda and Quasimodo in Notre Dame

The musicals after Notre Dame de Paris have kept the same Pop music style. You do not hear that stereotypical musical belting tone or that kind high pitched nasal tonality. The sets however of some shows are more typical of musical. Like the have sets changes and look grander.

Garou as Quasimodo & Helene Segara Danse mon Esmeralda,Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Garou as Quasimodo and Helene Segara performing Danse mon Esmeralda

It really comes down to the French aesthetic which I can’t really speak to but consider this Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, one of the biggest musical in the world has not, as of 2015 ever had a French version. The French style is defiantly geared toward the pop rock musical which is what Notre Dame de Paris presented. Perhaps the not-complicated simplicity but edgy sets and costumes of the show mixed with its high emotions were just what the French wanted from a musical.

Helene Segara, Garou, Daniel Lavoie, Patrick Fiori Original cast Notre Dame de Paris pciture image

Helene Segara, Garou, Daniel Lavoie, Patrick Fiori Original cast Notre Dame de Paris

Unlike other musicals, Notre Dame de Paris has a very different take on costumes. Like every interpretation of costumes, it’s part the current style, in this case late 90’s in France and the period the story, which takes place in 1482. However, the costume designer, Fred Sathal didn’t seem take much from the fashions of story’s period, she pretty much did her own thing.

Helene Segara as Esmeralda Notre Dame de Paris design by Fred Sathal

Helene Segara as Esmeralda design by Fred Sathal

Fred Sathal is a couture fashion designer who got her start in theater. Her designs are described a luxury bohemian and she likes sequins and beading and has unique techniques on fabric manipulation. Her point of view is clear in Notre Dame de Paris’ costumes.

Helene Segara as Esmeralda Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Helene Segara as Esmeralda Notre Dame de Paris

The costumes in Notre Dame de Paris are really polarizing. I have seen some hate, down right hate, on Esmeralda’s green dress and I can see where that comes from. The original dress doesn’t move very well and the details on it, with its unique swirled velvet-like fabric, patched work seams that are dyed slightly different and sequins, get lost and aren’t that notable. The costumes have so many little details that they aren’t that well suited for a stage show.

Garou as Quasimodo Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Garou as Quasimodo

These costumes just don’t read as medieval. They do seem to have more of a late 90’s couture vibe while sort of relating to the characters. I would say that as a standard representation of a costume, Quasimodo’s is the best. That being said I do like the characters have some color coding, they wear a mostly a single solid color so that a member of the audience can identify the character from far away.

Julie Zenatti as Fleur de Lys Notre Dame de Paris

Julie Zenatti as Fleur de Lys Notre Dame de Paris

The costumes differ somewhat from show to show, cast to cast especially both of Esmeralda’s costumes and Fleur-de-Lys‘ to a fair degree. It’s kind of amazing how much the green dress differs when they try so hard to keep it the same. The exception is the Italian version which is similar in concept but very different, it has more movement and is more exaggerated. Really I could spends weeks discussing these costumes in depth, hell I could spend weeks just talking about the fabric of the green dress, but I will not.

Bruno Pelletier as Gringoire in Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Bruno Pelletier as Gringoire

This costume are more representation of the characters rather expressing grandiose musical costume preferences while maintain the designer style and the minimal nature of the show. If you like them, great, so do I and if you don’t than it’s understandable.

 

 

Fun Fact-  Phoebus’ chain mail shirt is real chain mail and Patrick Fiori lost like ten pounds running around while wearing it

For More
http://rivercygnet.hubpages.com/hub/nddp-costume-esmeralda-green
http://rivercygnet.hubpages.com/hub/esmeralda-white-dress
http://rivercygnet.hubpages.com/hub/fleur-de-lys-costumes-of-notre-dame-de-paris
http://www.thehunchblog.com/2012/04/esmeraldas-green-costume-defense/

Esmeralda and Quasimodo in Notre Dame Ma Maison c'est ta maison garou helene Segara Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Esmeralda and Quasimodo in Notre Dame

Compared to other musicals in the world, Notre Dame de Paris is VERY minimal for something that is marketed as a spectacle. As far as sets, set pieces and props, there isn’t really much going on in the show.

Luc Merville Clopin and the Court of miracles and the Attack of Notre Dame Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Clopin and the Court of miracles and the Attack of Notre Dame

The bulk of the set is really just a rock climbing wall that fills in for Notre Dame as well as some pillars that help sell the set as the cathedral when the scene demands. This puts a heavy burden on the lightening to change the scene as well as the mood.

Daniel Lavoie as Frollo Esmeralda as Helene Segara Notre Dame de Paris picture image Visite de Frollo à Esmeralda

Daniel Lavoie as Frollo and Esmeralda as Helene Segara

I won’t pretend I’m a lighting wizard who knows about filters and gels and what not, my experience in the theater ended in 8th grade and my teachers didn’t teach the students anything of backstage tech or even acting methods but Notre Dame de Paris does some great things with the lighting. It’s moody when it needs to be and warm and bright to communicate the outside. It has some nice patterns of cobblestone and rose windows. I don’t think that is too complex of an effect but it’s a nice touch throughout the show.

Bruno Pelletier as Gringoire with dancer during Le Val d’amour Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Bruno Pelletier as Gringoire with dancer during Le Val d’amour

Then there is the dancing and acrobatics which is probably where most of the marketed “spectacle” lives. The dancing is sort of a mixed bag in terms of conception because without it the show is less a musical and more of a glorified concert but at some points it gets in the way of the show.

Not too often does the dancing do this but at some points it’s overkill, though I will admit that could a side effect of the editing on the DVD. I mean it’s not like I can just go to a place whenever and see the show, it hasn’t been in North American since 2005 and only has been performed in my country for one cast run in 2000 for six months. Am I bitter? Yes!

Garou Helene Segara Quasimodo and Esmeralda Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Quasimodo and Esmeralda

This post has gotten away from me. Anyway the staging, it’s fine for what it is, stylized minimalism.

Donnez-la moi (Give her to me)

Garou as Quasimodo and Helene Segara as Esmeralda performing  Donnez-la moi Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Garou as Quasimodo and Helene Segara as Esmeralda performing Donnez-la moi

Donnez-la moi is a bridge song. It’s Quasimodo literally fighting guards to get to Esmeralda’s body to claims it. It’s roughly thirty seconds long but it so sad.

Danse mon Esmeralda (Dance my Esmeralda)

Garou as Quasimodo & Helene Segara Danse mon Esmeralda, Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Garou as Quasimodo and Helene Segara performing Danse mon Esmeralda

Speaking of sad. Danse mon Esmeralda is the show tear-jerking finale. I challenge you not to feel sad during this song because it is heart-breaking. Quasimodo sings this to a dead Esmeralda and begs her to dance and sing for him and to let him go with her as in death they will unite.

Quasimodo learns that his deformity has lead him to this moment and that to die for Esmeralda is not death but an expression of his love.

This is beautiful and heartfelt. I get chills listening to it and it also leaves my misty eyed. The three dancers that are lifted in the airt gives this songs a even more transdential quality.

Musically, lyrically and contextually this is the best song in the show and was the perfect way to end it. Though the curtain call does have the whole cast singing Le Temps together in a super happy way so the audience doesn’t go home too bummed but Danse Mon Esmeralda fit the ending of the book and way a great note to end the show. A+++

Get the whole GLORIOUS ALBUM HERE

L’Attaque de Notre-Dame (Attack of Notre Dame)

L’Attaque de Notre-Dame Notre Dame de Paris picture image

L’Attaque de Notre-Dame Notre Dame de Paris

This songs just hits like a ton of bricks after Vivre. Maybe that was the point but like I have said half the songs in the show are bridge songs that lead into the next song. Maybe that was the point to lull the audience in with nice flow and then break it but it seems to me that songs or scenes were cut between Vivre and L’Attaque de Notre-Dame and that whistle line was proof enough of that.
However how is L’Attaque de Notre-Dame? As a song it’s has a cool melody, though it’s mostly Le Sans Papier with another melody overlay over.

The song has two parts the first part is mostly Clopin and Phoebus singing. Phoebus and Frollo attack Notre Dame to get the Court of Miracles out as both Frollo and Phoebus want Esmeralda dead because Frollo couldn’t get some and Phoebus wants some, (wink wink.) Frollo at the start has a part where is gives Phoesbus the right to break the right of sanctuary, because he can do that. Phoebus’s main part is line line about outing the outlaws while Clopin sings the chorus of Le Sans Papiers.

The first part ends when Clopin is beaten to death and before dying asks Esmeralda to take over The Court of Miracles. Esmeralda then takes over singing Le Sans Papiers and Gringoire sings some verses from La Sans Papiers. However Phoebus and crew win.

While the music is very powerful, there is a weird context issue. Considering how accurate this version is regarded, this part is one of the least faithful versions. I’m not saying it doesn’t work within the show but I must mention it.

-Frollo in the book makes up the rumor that sanctuary is being suspended for a day but in the musical he can just do it.
-In the book the Court of Miracles attacks Notre Dame to save Esmeralda and get riches but in musical they are the ones defending the Cathedral with Clopin leading the charge.
-In the book Quasimodo defends Notre Dame to protect Esmeralda from people he thinks want to harm her but in the musical Quasimodo is not in this number at all.

I think for me that is a big little misstep, Quasimodo who loves Notre Dame isn’t there to protect it. It works in the musical but it seems off. The whole of this scene feels off, it’s a cool number but it is rushed and odd.

Déportés (Deported)

Esmeralda about to be hung Helene Segara Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Esmeralda about to be hung

The bad guys win! Everyone who wants Esmeralda to die got their wish. In this song Phoebus passes the sentence on Esmeralda and the Court of Miracles. The Court are all deported and Esmeralda is dragged off to be hanged. Fleur-de-Lys and Phoesbus leave together happy with their scheme and Gringoire is powerless to help. This is the last we see of these characters in the show.

Frollo has moment of remorse but he is too far gone.

Déportés isn’t that much, just really two lines, exile and deported but Phoebus and the chorus sing the the lines with coldblooded authority that it’s crushing and chilling. It’s an effective number that gets you into a less than happy mood.

Mon Maitre, mon sauveur (My Master, My Savior)

Daniel Lavoie as Frollo and Garou as Quasimodo performing Mon Maitre, mon saver Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Daniel Lavoie as Frollo and Garou as Quasimodo performing Mon Maitre, mon sauveur

More death. As dawn breaks, Quasimodo begs Frollo to stop Esmeralda’s execution but Frollo reveals to Quasimodo that he organized the hanging. As Esmeralda dies Frollo laughs and Quasimodo pushes him to his death. In the show it’s down the stairs instead of off Notre Dame de Rock Climbing wall.

Mon maître, mon sauveur is a simple song without a lot of orchestration but that gives way for Frollo’s craziness to come through. There much to it except the deaths of Esmeralda and Frollo. Esmeralda is harnessed and lifted up so the sight of seeing her hanging lifeless in the air is disheartening. Frollo’s death is done with a silhouette falling down various stairs of Notre Dame. I’m going to guess it was done with doubles tumbling on cue and Lavoie appears out the bottom.

Get the whole GLORIOUS ALBUM HERE

Dieu que le monde est injustice (God made the world unfair)

Garou as Quasimodo Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Garou as Quasimodo

Dieu que le monde est injuste is heartbreaking. Quasimodo sings as a lament that Esmeralda doesn’t love him the same way she loves Phoebus. It’s more than strictly he’s ugly and Phoebus is handsome it’s more about rich and poor. Quasimodo is ugly and poor and Phoebus is handsome rich lord, they are as unequal as two people can get.

Quasimodo doesn’t blame Esmeralda for her preference, he blames god as God made the world unfair. He then asks who God and Jesus prefer the rich or the poor though the implication is that Quasimodo believes it’s the rich who don’t have the some heart and are not as faithful. Might be a unfair but since the two representations of the nobles in the show are Fleur-de-Lys who wants a poor girls to die because she is jealous and Phoebus a two-timing slut, Quasimodo might have the right of it.

Most Quasimodos sell this song with sad anger though I think Garou just nails this song wit the right amount of angst.

Vivre (To Live)

Helene Segara as Esmeralda performing Vivre Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Helene Segara as Esmeralda performing Vivre

Vivre is a gorgeous song and I throw that word around a lot but it really is beautiful. Esmeralda sings this song as a yearning for unconditional love. Love without barriers or social status. Esmeralda wants love and believes in its power  The lyrics have a lovely flow and Helene Segara gives a lot of emotional power to this song.

The main irony of this song is that Quasimodo wants to give her that kind of love but she can’t see it. It’s a little unclear if at the point in the musical she still longs for Phoebus as she never say him specifically and this musical isn’t shy about using names.

Vivre is Esmeralda’s growth song, she wants to live in a world where love belongs to everyone and if she has to die for that she would. And since she talking about loving in a more unconditional way and that as a hope for all humanity, I think it more than her singing with Phoebus in mind. I do wonder that if Esmeralda and Quasimodo had more time together Esmeralda could have loved him. I don’t think book Esmeralda could have without some more maturity but this Esmeralda I think could have.

Both of the songs are great foils for each other and flow wonderfully into each other which makes the next song very jarring.

Get the whole GLORIOUS ALBUM HERE

Lune (Moon)

Gingoire lune Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Gingoire and the moon

Lune is gorgeous. If you don’t believe that a Gringoire can sing then this knocks it out the park.

Gringoire sings this song as a storyteller and it about the dangers and the all consuming nature of love. Gringoire ask the moon to bare witness to Quasimodo who suffers from love.

There is so much power and pathos in this song. The melody is delicate and melancholic. It’s perfect!

Je te laisse un sifflet (I leave you a whistle)

Garou as  Quasimodo and Helene Segara as Esmeralda Notre dame de Paris picture image

Garou as Quasimodo and Helene Segara as Esmeralda

Two words; Chekov’s Gun! If you introduced a prop, you better damn use it or why bother. This song is the biggest misstep in the show. In this song Quasimodo gives Esmeralda a whistle much like in the book however she never uses it in the show and it is never used ever.

I sort of HAVE to assume that they were songs cut from the show that would have made this song make sense because the transition between Vivre and The Attack on Notre Dame is awful and most of the songs in the show are bridge songs that transition.

They should fixed this song up so that there was no whistle mentioned because it’s stupid. I mean it’s one line that could have been fix as the most of the songs is rather sing-song and Quasimodo just give Esmeralda the load down of the cathedral. But even with that line about the useless whistle, I have no problem saying that this is the worse song in the musical by far.

Get the whole GLORIOUS ALBUM HERE

Visite de Frollo à Esmeralda (Visit of Frollo to Esmeralda)

Daniel Lavoie as Frollo Esmeralda as Helene Segara Notre Dame de Paris picture image Visite de Frollo à Esmeralda

Daniel Lavoie as Frollo and Esmeralda as Helene Segara

I once had the je t’aime as a ringtone, it was awesome. I want to say that any good version of Hunchback should have a jail scene but what I really mean is a confession scene. In that scene the lines do not have to be line for line of the book but lines that capture the mood energy of the scene. That’s what separates a good confession scene like the 1939 version from a meh one like the 1977 version.

However Visite de Frollo à Esmeralda is the perfect version, it gets the scene down perfectly. They only thing that is different is that Frollo isn’t as threatening or a scary as he is in the book, he is done right crazy. Here is just more sexually-repressed which gives was to crazy laster one but he doesn’t have the ice gaze with fiery eyes, however that more on a perform level than the intention of the show, but I don’t mind it, Lavoie’s Je t’aime is powerful, it’s great.

As far as the song goes, it is a lead in to the next song. It has the same off-ness that the other songs have had, defiantly a tone of this part of the musical. But it a a really good lead in.

Un Matin tu Dansais (One morning you danced)

Esmeralda and Frollo Un matin tu dansais Helene Segara Daniel Lavoie Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Esmeralda and Frollo

Un Matin tu Dansais is the really the confession scene proper. In it Frollo confesses his feeling and thoughts towards Esmeralda, she rejects him and he tries to force himself on her, so we get the port de rouge scene mixed in. You got love Lavoie acting here when she pushes him away and he touches the spot where Esmeralda pushed him.

Again. like the lead in, the tone of the song has that off-balanced vibe that we all have come to love, haven’t we?

I don’t have any complaints about this song, the tone it perfect, I really enjoy the acting and the staging. If I did have one issue it would that Esmeralda isn’t scared of Frollo, which fits her character in the musical but not the book.

Libérés (Liberty)

Quasimodo freeing Esmeralda Liberes Helene Segara garou Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Quasimodo freeing Esmeralda

Libérés is a great high energy song that is the perfect contrast to the songs that have some before however I do have some issues with it.

In the song, Quasimodo sets Clopin and his people free and then they save Esmeralda. The song is about revolution and their rights to asylum. The singer just sings this some with such power and conviction that it’s great. Also the staging and use of the space is awesome. They remove the iron bars and people suspend down the climbing wall which is cool.

Now it may seems like have a lot of issue with this song but I nitpick and just watching the musical you would more than likely not even think about these things.

1, As powerful as this song is, it is weak if you compare its counterpoint in the book where Quasimodo descends from Notre Dame and save Esmeralda right before she about to be hanged and proclaims Sanctuary. Here he just opens a cage door and the Clopin is the one to actually save Esmeralda.

I get why they did it this way, practicality and budget.

2, On contextual level, how did Quasimodo know where to go and when to show up?
Last time he was on stage he was in Notre Dame asking where Esmeralda went off to.

One could speculate that Gringoire told him as Clopin failed to save Esmeralda with his complaining song but how would Gringoire know that Quasimodo had interest in Esmeralda? Gringoire and Quasimodo have zero interaction with each other except for the Feast of Fools. Gringoire’s part in Libérés seems to indicate that he told Quasimodo BUT Gringoire has a storyteller role in Notre Dame de Paris so is he in this song as Gringoire the character or as Gringoire the storyteller?

Consider this? Gringoire’s part in Libérés is independent of the other singers, he is singing on his own and he off to the the side for most of the song and comes in separately from Quasimodo toward the middle on the song. It seems like he more of a storyteller than a player in the plan.

However the simpler method is typically the more likely so we’’l just go with Gringoire told Quasimodo even though it makes no sense, since the play made it a point that Gringoire told Clopin but not Quasimodo, better drama I guess.

 

Side Note- The English version of this song is really awkward. it sounds like an ad for a Mattress Store One Day sale.

Get the whole GLORIOUS ALBUM HERE

Do to some personal reasons, there will be no anti-hyptheical casting post today. I had asked for suggestions on Facebook so that is why I’m mentioning but I can’t get it out for today. I’m sorry, it will be out next week and maybe I will do two casting posts in August since people like seem to enjoy them.

Anyway Enjoy this video that is a Notre Dame de Paris blast from the past,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QL-JJ0c421g

 

Again, next week will be an anti-hypothecial casting post on Jim Carrey as Clopin.