The sets of the ballet were designed by French film and theater director René Allio.

Sets from Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris picture image
Sets from Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris

Like so many of the other past productions of Notre dame de Paris, Allio took the more symbolic representation of the cathedral. You know it’s Notre Dame you’re looking at but it’s not an accurate depiction. It’s depicted as brown with details in paint messy looking lines. It looks like a fresco trying to look like stained glass. Like Notre Dame broke into piece and clumsy put back together. Which is apt as that was Hugo description of Quasimodo.

Sets from Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris picture image
Sets from Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris

Other than the Notre Dame de Paris edifice set, the other set that is most noteworthy is the bell tower. At the start of the second act, Quasimodo climbs down the set as the bell rings.

Sets from Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris picture image
Robert Bolle as Quasimodo

While you’re not always going to play attention to the sets they work for the ballet’s mood, tone and add to its overall very unique style.

Paul Connelly, Conductor for the 2013 performance of Roland Petit’s Notre Dame de Paris. picture image
Paul Connelly, Conductor for the 2013 performance of Roland Petit’s Notre Dame de Paris.

The Music of  Roland Petit’s Notre Dame de Paris was composed by Maurice Jarre. Jarre is famous for composing the music of Lawrence of Arabia, Dr Zhivago and Passage to India. If you noticed a patterned, you will have noticed that those are all films.

Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris Ballet picture image
Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris Ballet

This Ballet’s music plays like a film score. Which is really instresting since it’s a film score that is played live.

 On the whole I enjoy the music. It reminded me of video game music. I could see myself running through a dungeon in a JRPG game listing to some of this score. It really reminded me of Dragon Quest music, which is compliment. I really love video game OSTs a lot.  

Isabelle Guerin as Esmeralda Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris picture image
Isabelle Guerin as Esmeralda Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris

This music fits on the emotional beats of the story and the music showcase the character’s personality. For instance I love that Esmeralda’s introductory solo’s music is both mysterious yet playful.  However there music doesn’t really stand out on their own against the ballet performance. That may not be a bad thing though, a film score is supposed to work in tandem with the visuals, they are not meant to overshadow them.    

Orchestra pit practice the music for Roland Petit's Notre Dame de Paris picture image
Orchestra pit practice the music for Roland Petit’s Notre Dame de Paris

I also think there is not a stand out piece from the score but that could be a case that this music is not part of collective music landscape, outside of this ballet this music has never been referenced or sampled.  

Natalia Osipova as Esmeralda & Roberto Bolle as Quasimodo, Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris Ballet picture image
Natalia Osipova as Esmeralda & Roberto Bolle as Quasimodo

If you listen to the music you can hear little bits that sound like the Lawrence of Arabia’s theme. I can really hear it in the pas de deux between Esmeralda and Quasimodo in the second act.  

Quasimodo and Esmeralda with thugs in  Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris Ballet picture image
Quasimodo and Esmeralda with thugs in Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris Ballet

So while there is not a particular memorable piece of music in the score the music is fine. Weirdly the piece of music from this ballet that has been stuck in my head as been the music that plays when Esmeralda and Quasimodo are set upon by the thugs/court of miracles. I also enjoy the fugue-like  music for Frollo’s introduction.

Isabelle Guerin as Esmeralda Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris picture image
Isabelle Guerin as Esmeralda Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris

The costumes of the ballet are just so fascinating. First of there are no tutus in this production everything is very streamline and mod which fits the era. Though It was a little early for the trend of mod but we will get to that.

Natalia Osipova as Esmeralda, Roberto Bolle as Quasimodo and Mick Zeni as Frollo, Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris 2013 picture image
Natalia Osipova as Esmeralda, Roberto Bolle as Quasimodo and Mick Zeni as Frollo, Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris 2013

The first area of interest is the use of colors and the lack of colors. The principal roles mostly wear neutrals. Quasimodo wears brown, Frollo wears black, Esmeralda wears white with black details  in first act and purple in the second and Phoebus wears white with a touch of blue. The corps de ballet are the one who wears the colors. So the principal dancers do stand out.

Yves St Laurent’s design for Phoebus

Yves St Laurent, the fashion designer, designed the costume and said that he was inspired by stained glass windows and also Mondrian. Mondrian was a dutch modernist painter from the early 20th century and was part of the De Stijl movement.

What I find really fascinating is around 1965 Yves St Laurent did a collection that was inspired by Mondrian which really shaped the fashion of the late 60’s. So did his work on Notre Dame de Paris inspired that collection or was it a case of it all just happening at the same time?  In an interview Yves St Laurent did site Mondrian as an inspiration for Phoebus’ costume. So did the ballet have an impact on late 1960’s fashion as it help inspired Yves St Laurent? Maybe.

Quasimodo in Roland Petit’s Notre Dame de Paris

Also I should point out that Yves St Laurent also said that Quasimodo’s costume was inspired by frescos. So everything was inspired by cathedral elements which is perfection.  

Phoebus and Esmeralda Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris Ballet picture image
Phoebus and Esmeralda  in Roland Petit’s Notre Dame de Paris

Getting back to the costumes Esmeralda and Phoebus’ their costumes have a extra layer that is pulled off to imply nudity during their tryst which is very interesting and surprising. I do love it when costumes are interactive and part of the narrative, like Cinderella’s transforming dress in Roger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella or even when Christine Daae gets her big skirt put on during Think of me in Phantom.        

Natalia Osipova as Esmeralda & Roberto Bolle as Quasimodo, Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris Ballet picture image
Natalia Osipova as Esmeralda & Roberto Bolle as Quasimodo

One aspect that I find slightly puzzling is while I don’t mind Esmeralda in white at the start of the Ballet, as it’s the conscious decision to put the principles in neutral, I don’t get why she wears dark purple in the second act. In a pure sense of the novel Esmeralda wears white while she in Notre Dame but here it’s purple. It’s a pretty shade but the decision is weird. If I were to venture guess I would say that the reason is very simple as that dark purple color is a very prominent color in the stained glass windows especially the South Rose window. Plus Esmeralda does not need to stand out as much as the corps de ballet has less to do with the second act.  So maybe it’s not such a weird decision.

Quasimodo and Esmeralda in Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris Ballet picture image
Quasimodo and Esmeralda in Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris Ballet

All in all the costumes are very in keeping with a 1960’s point of view and burgeoning styles of the later parts of the decade. However I love that Yves St Laurent went for his inspiration and combine it with the modern aesthetic of the time to create a real look for this ballet that is wholly unique.     

Also is you look up Yves St Laurent you get a pair of earring that fit Esmeralda perfectly. Perfect for Disneybounding if you got the funds.

Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris Ballet picture image

Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris Ballet

I’ll admit I should not be reviewing dance, I don’t understand it. I don’t understand the language or technique behind any of it. That being said I understand that Roland Petit was going for a more experimental form of ballet with Notre Dame de Paris or contemporary ballet. Contemporary ballet uses both elements of traditional ballet and modern dance to create a new style of ballet.

The style on dance in this ballet is not light and graceful with impressive delicate footwork on pointe, this ballet feels more masculine in its energy and movements than traditional ballets. It feels powerful in its moves  and there is a lot more upper body movements than you would see in what is considered for a conventional ballet.

Natalia Osipova as Esmeralda, Roberto Bolle as Quasimodo and Mick Zeni as Frollo, Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris 2013 picture image

Natalia Osipova as Esmeralda, Roberto Bolle as Quasimodo and Mick Zeni as Frollo, Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris 2013

That’s not to say it’s all strong manly ballet all throughout. Esmeralda does go on pointe and has more conventional ballet fluidity in her dances but their the modern dance elements still there. Like during her solo she has these sliding motions with her feet across the floor, which I have never seen in a ballet movement, though I could 100% mistaken and it done in traditional ballet.   

The question is does this contemporary ballet style of Petit’s work for the story? Hugo always had a rough less genital setting to his characters and story. With Hunchback we have a tragic story of three men and their own unique takes on love and desire.  So while I personally don’t understand this style of dance or ballet, it does suit the mood of the story.

There is nothing wrong with the choreography, Petit approached this project with a lot of passion and knowledge of the art form. This is all super subjective either you like this style or you do not. Or you’re like me whereas you appreciate the intent but you really just don’t get it.

Natalia Osipova as Esmeralda & Roberto Bolle as Quasimodo, Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris Ballet picture image

Natalia Osipova
as Esmeralda & Roberto Bolle as Quasimodo

There were moments I liked, Like Esmeralda’s first solo, the pas de trois with Esmeralda, Phoebus and Frollo and the pas de deux with Quasimodo and Esmeralda in the second act. I also really liked Quasimodo’s moments on the whole of how the dancer uses his arm and elbow as his hunch. Make it more interactive.  

Clairemarie Osta as Esmeralda & Karl Paquette as Phoebus, Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Clairemarie Osta as Esmeralda & Karl Paquette as Phoebus, Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris

Phoebus is an interesting character as he whatever a given version needs him to be. He can be a good guy, bad guy, romantic lead, asshole, just sort of there, or non-existent. 

In Petit’s ballet he is the Captain of the Guard, saves Esmeralda, seduces her, tries to sleep with her, gets stabbed and dies. He’s basically by the book except he doesn’t have a fiancée and dies. Given that much he is akin to the 1939 version of Phoebus. He’s a horny captain who dies, The End.   

Although the ballet does go out of it way to showcase Phoebus’ attentions on other women who appear to be prostitutes or at least tavern wenches or maybe just whores so either Phoebus has a bad seduction game or he is a massive slut. I would say he is a slut.

Given that his function is to add to the tragedy of Esmeralda and torture for Frollo, he doesn’t need to have a deeper character.  He does what he needs for the purposes of the ballet’s narrative.

Mick Zeni as Frollo, Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Mick Zeni as Frollo, Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris

Given this version characterization of Esmeralda and Quasimodo it’s not surprising that there is very little to this Frollo outside of what the plot demands.

He is a priest who lusts after Esmeralda. He doesn’t feel any guilt over feeling lust towards Esmeralda versus his lofty opinion of himself because of his position as a priest. He could have been spurned jealous lover of hers who happened to be a priest and it wouldn’t have changed anything as the ballet presents his character.

Basically there is not much here outside of Frollo slapping Esmeralda during his assault on her that is different. Not sure how I feel about that but he did attack her in the book so the slap was a clear visual for the ballet, so it’s at least understandable and the action does make Frollo more contemptible as a villain.   

And a villain is what he is. It’s very black and white with no shades of gray. It’s a boring rendering of the character.

Unless this ballet is super-coded and there is more expressed in the characterization  and I don’t understand it because I don’t understand the language and gestures of ballet. But, if that was true then the bitch slap would not have been necessary, so this is just boring yet oddly violent version of Frollo.  

Again I should just say that for the medium of ballet this type of characterization is fine. It does what it needs to.

Natalia Osipova as Esmeralda & Roberto Bolle as Quasimodo, Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris Ballet picture image

Natalia Osipova as Esmeralda & Roberto Bolle as Quasimodo

 

If I had to venture a guess, I’d say this version of Quasimodo is more in keeping with the Laughton version. Indeed this Quasimodo falls into the more sad, devoted thoughtful brand of  Quasimodo.

There is nothing in this characterization  that is morose or hateful to the masses but nothing that worships Notre Dame either. Instead it seems like this Quasimodo wants to be a normal person and is devoted to Esmeralda.

Not a major departure for the character but you rarely see a Quasimodo trying to stand straight and failing. 

All in all it’s a very safe approach to the character. Time tested and audience approved.  People like the emotional pathos of the tragic disfigured figure of Quasimodo  and this is the characterization the ballet offers. 

Isabelle Guerin as Esmeralda Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Isabelle Guerin as Esmeralda Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris

What can one really say about analyzing characters in a ballet? Yes, they have some traits of the characters from Hugo’s but nothing in depth. And that is okay.

With this version of Esmeralda we get that she is flirty at least when she dances and is generally kind.  She doesn’t have the innocence or superstitious streak that she has in the book but she does seem a bit shy about sleeping with Phoebus, so at least there is virginal quality of Esmeralda’s character is there in this ballet.

She doesn’t seem to fear Frollo as much until his attack on Phoebus. Unlike the book where she fears him very early on. In this ballet she does seem to be uncomfortable with his leering but it doesn’t seem like fear. This is not a big deal as many Esmeraldaa rarely fear Frollo from the onset.  

Esmeralda is sweet, kind, flirtatious and tragic in this version. So we have a baseline version of Esmeralda.  And for a ballet that is all she really needs to be.

Natalia Osipova as Esmeralda, Roberto Bolle as Quasimodo and Mick Zeni as Frollo, Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris 2013 picture image

Natalia Osipova as Esmeralda, Roberto Bolle as Quasimodo and Mick Zeni as Frollo, Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris 2013

 

This version of Hugo’s novel is very pared down to a very minimal telling of the story. You have the four principal characters: Quasimodo, Esmeralda, Frollo and Phoebus. The ballet doesn’t have  Gringoire, Clopin, Fleur de Lys, or extra characters.

As one can guess having only the love/lust plot-line it follows that trajectory and doesn’t concern its self with the subject of blight of the downtrodden, social justice or the modernity of the printing impact on architecture.

It starts with Quasimodo getting crown Pope of Fools, Frollo gets mad. Esmeralda dances to which she attracts the attention of Quasimodo and Frollo.

Frollo then has Quasimodo kidnap Esmeralda. And here is where we a deviation. After Quasimodo grabs Esmeralda they are set upon by the corps dressed in red. Now I was very confused, I had no idea what was happening. I thought it was maybe fire or that the dancers were somehow symbolic of Frollo’s lust. I didn’t know!

According to http://ticket.heraldtribune.com (an actually well-done review) the corps are portraying thugs. This makes sense both within the context of the ballet’s narrative and adapting Hugo’s story. In the original novel after the kidnapping, Gringoire, who was trying to help Esmeralda, is set upon by the Court of Miracles. However the thugs are now in this scene to help convey Quasimodo as more sympathetic as he is protecting Esmeralda. This adaption isn’t really necessary to story and could have been skipped but works to add more dancing which you need in a ballet.    

So after the thugs are dealt with, Phoebus then arrests Quasimodo. Phoebus notices Esmeralda and they are attracted to each other. Then Quasimodo is sentenced and Esmeralda gives him water.  Esmeralda and Phoebus have their tyst, though he flirts with whores prior and during their time together. That is to communicate Phoebus’ lack of romantic feelings towards Esmeralda and that he just in it for the sex.  He is then stabbed by Frollo. I’m pretty sure that Phoebus does in fact die in this version.

Esmeralda has her trial and is sentenced. Quasimodo then saves her from the gallows.

The second act is Esmeralda and Quasimodo bond. Frollo then attacks Esmeralda and I mean he slaps her a bunch. She is then dragged off to her death. Quasimodo strangles Frollo and then carries Esmeralda’s body away.

It is a very basic rendition of Hunchback which is fine for medium of ballet. You don’t want anything too complex but is this telling too simple? Perhaps. It is very pared down to a degree that basic disney’s knockoff have more developed story lines though that is not always a good thing. 

To be honest the narrative only works to convey mood, style and dancing and that is what this Ballet is all about. But we should address the character before getting to those points of interest.  

Way back in April 2018, I asked which  version of Hunchback should be next to review. I had a few versions of my radar, like the Dingo version and La Esmeralda. See post here

Now I did picked one a while but due to personal issues I wasn’t ready to sit down and go back down the rabbit hole. So I  put it off till now, hopefully.

Roland Petit's Notre Dame de Paris ballet picture image

Roland Petit’s Notre Dame de Paris ballet

The version that is up next was  a suggested by neala897 and it’s the Roland Petit Ballet. We will see how this goes because ballets are hard to review.

As of yet I have not watch the Ballet that will come later as I as fresh of perspective as possible.

But here is a little background information. Petit mounted Notre Dame de Paris in 1965 with music by Maurice Jarre.  Jarre was a film composer who did the music on films like Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965) and Passage to India (1984.)    I will just say one source site the ballet as debuting in 1965 and another sites 1967, the point is this ballet is from the 60s.  

So let’s get into this. I’m going to watch the version performed by the Opéra national de Paris, 1996 with Isabelle Guérin as Esmeralda, Nicolas Le Riche as Quasimodo,  Laurent Hilaire as Frollo and  Manuel Legris as Phoebus.

Who has seen this version or at least this ballet before?

(Note – The picture is from the 2013 production)