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Despite its flaws Notre Dame de Paris is the one of the best adaptions of the novel. It captures the spirt of Hugo and the characters better than any other version to date. Is it perfect? No but you don’t get much closer to the book and it does it own thing very nicely. And it brought musicals back to France.
Easily this my favorite version. To be honest, I could spend more time on Notre Dame de Paris since I didn’t really get into the any of the other casts. In fact that is something I have always wanted to do even before thehunchblog officially started. I more than likely will return to Notre Dame de Paris and discuss the various casts more probably on Wednesdays at various interval, since Wednesdays are like a free-for-all day. Heck, there is a new Italian tour going on so there are a lot of casts to get through and I would like to discuss more about the costumes.
So this isn’t good-bye but a see you later Notre Dame de Paris.
Next month is a theme month (Guess the theme if you dare), so there won’t be a version starting in October. Next version starts in November and trust me when I say it’s one of the infamous bad ones.Follow thehunchblog
Donnez-la moi (Give her to me)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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 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)
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
Act II Commence!
The second act opens in a very similar manner as the first act. Florence is a duet between Frollo and Gringoire and the sing about the changing weird mainly how the printing press will affect architecture. This of course is the subject to a long chapter in the novel but it was very interesting and it translates to a lovely song.
Unlike Le Temps, Florence has a more melancholic tone or at least bittersweet. However neither Frollo or Gringoire point to how they feel about this transition, they present it more as fact.
If there is a negative it that tonally Frollo ends the first act by stabbing Phoebus and now he is wondering about the state of the age. It’s just weird.
The Song has a lovely melody and both singer add great emotion. The Song ends with Frollo and Gringoire commenting on Quasimodo being in love.
This was Daniel Lavoie favorite song.
Les Cloches (The Bells)
One this I love about this number are dudes hanging from the Bells, that looks like so much fun.
Les Cloches is on the one hand a fun song and on the other it’s rather sad. How can it be both? It’s fun because it up-tempo and Quasimodo sings all the instances when he rings the bells, which is pretty every hour of every day, busy guy.
However in his duty he has to ring the bells for lover getting married and he knows this doesn’t apply to him and more over the bells never ring for him which makes him sad as he loves the bells.
This precisely captures not all Quasimodo’s relationship with the bells but his feeling on love and his future. There also a lot emotion in this song and Garou exposes Quasimodo’s inner working perfectly.
Patrick Fiori once said in the Frequentstar special that of all the songs in Notre Dame de Paris, this is the one he would most want to sing.
Où est-elle? (Where is she?)
What is this? Another trio about Esmeralda, this makes the second one of in the musical. This time it’s Gringoire, Frollo and Clopin. in Où est-elle ? Frollo asks Gringoire where Esmeralda is and he pretends he doens’t know but tells Clopin. Thet all miss her and remark that Paris is sadder without her.
It’s a pretty simple song but it heart-felt even from Frollo even with all his weird confused lusty feeling towards her. And all their voice work well together.
Les Oiseaux qu’on met en Cage (The Birds in Cages)
Ok, I’m just going to say it, Les oiseaux qu’on met en cage is one of my favorite songs in the show, like easy top three.
This song is a depressing duet between Esmeralda and Quasimodo. Esmeralda in jail asks for Quasimodo to save her and not Gringoire or Clopin as her and Quasimodo have a bond that she doesn’t seem to have with the other two. Quasimodo longingly wonders where Esmeralda is.
Esmeralda and Quasimodo have such pathos in their voices that it hard not to love this song. It’s also just a lovely duet with beautifully sad lyrics.
Get the whole GLORIOUS ALBUM HERE
This part have FIVE songs because of someone’s weird decision to change a song
Ma maison c’est ta maison (My House is your House)
Ma maison c’est ta maison is one of the sweetest songs in Notre Dame de Paris. In it Quasimodo offer Notre Dame as both protection and a home to Esmeralda, very nice. This is the only version really do this as Esmeralda isn’t in any trouble.
It also just a nice duet between Quasimodo and Esmeralda but it offer some character development, like what Notre Dame means to Quasimodo, like it’s his passion, his air, his prison his homeland etc. Esmeralda admits to being afraid of Quasimodo but through this interacting she changing her mind as he reminds her of the gargoyles which make her laugh when she is bored. That could sound mean but it’s not meant that way.
Melodically the song is very gentle and sweet. Unlike the other songs in the song the built isn’t with music, it’s Esmeralda and Quasimodo singing together which is a nice little change.
This song also makes Notre Dame seem great, cool in the summer and warm in the winter, I live in New England so that sound wonderful as we have insane winters and crazy humid summers.
One more thing, I really like when Esmeralda takes Quasimodo’s hands, it’s very nice. It’s always nice when the performer have good chemistry and Garou and Helene Segara have really wonderful chemistry.
Ave Maria Païen (The Pagan Ave Maria)
Ave Maria Païen is one of Esmeralda’s big musical numbers. It’s a clear homage to the 1939 version when she prays to Mary. Disney had a similar scene but the tone and message was a little different.
In this song Esmeralda ask for protect for herself and she asks that barrier like race, nationality and other creeds that divide people be lifted which is her philosophy. So while she asks for protection and also ask for the welfare of people who get trampled on people in power much like God Help the Outcast.
The song itself is rather simple but gorgeous. Instead of having complex chords and music it instead has a children choir which just adds a lot of beauty and atmosphere. Also Helene Segara sells with song with a lot of passion in her voice.
Jens sens ma vie qui bascule (I feel my life slipping)
While Esmeralda was praying Frollo was watching her and he becomes more fascinated by her. Really, this bridge song is meant to link Ave Maria Païen with Tu vas me détruire but in some way it’s more of introdution to Frollo’s song. It makes that point that Frollo is becoming vulnerable.
As a bridge song goes, Je sens ma vie qui bascule was perfect for Frollo’s character and the flow of the show and then they ruined it.
Si Tu Pouvais Voir en moi (If you could see inside me)
Sometime in 2001 someone changed Jens sens ma vie qui bascule to Si Tu Pouvais Voir en moi song by Quasimodo, who is now the one watching Esmeralda pray taking Frollo out of the scene which makes his following song come out of no where which makes for sloppy flow.
But more than that this song is basically Quasimodo calling Esmeralda out for being shallow and not loving him as every other guy’s love is not true like his. This song is just fucking pointless, we already know this from Belle. I just don’t understand the thought process of ruining the pacing, the following song, and ruining Quasimodo’s character. Quasimodo is calling her shallow for not seeing inside and yeah Quasimodo did something like that in the book with vases but this song feels wrong for his character.
Really it would have been fine for Quasimodo to watch Esmeralda pray but it ruined too much to be meaningful to the show. I HATE this song, hate, hate, hate. Boo!
Tu vas me détruire (You will destory me)
This is Frollo’s first big solo number. In Tu vas me détruire, Frollo sings about how his obsession is going to destory him and he on the one hand cares as he curses her but on the other he doesn’t care. He is going to sink into his obsession without any remorse.
The performer playing Frollo typically put their own spin while singing this song. Some are more angry while others are tragic. What I like about Lavoie’s version is that he has a great combination of pathos and desperate anger which is perfect for the character. I also like the way he hold his hand with a lot of tension like he trying to retain what little control he has left.
The staging is also really great. As Frollo sing pillars are trying to crush him. Literally his issues of purity and purity are trying to kill. If you really look at those pillars, you can see eyehole and a doors.
The music has a weird mix of being gentle but really off and I don’t mean off like the timing but like a stirring madness which again is perfect for the character and mood.
When I was first into this show, this song was one my favorites.
Get the whole GLORIOUS ALBUM HERE
Ok, I love this bridge but it is 43 seconds of three completely different subject matters.
Subject Number 1; 0:00-0:17
Frollo asks Gringoire about Esmeralda. Gringoire says that she is his wife and Frollo orders Gringoire not to touch her which Gringoire would never permit himself to do but not for the lack of trying, am I right?
Subject Number 2; 0:18-0:33
Gringoire asks about the word craved on the wall, Anarkia. Frollo tells him that it means “fate” in greek. Which is a simplified definition of the word but it’s not wrong.
Subject Number 3; 0:34-0:43
Gringoire sees Quasimodo being taken away and Frollo says (or sings) that God know why he got arrested but the jerk knows.
Anyway three magical subjects and my goodness do they not blend together at all. I mean they needed a song likeAnarkia but this song suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder. I mean I love that they put concept of Ananke in the musical but it so shoe-horned in.
ReallY just find the three subjects throw together hilarious but it does get us to the next scene, it sort of lifted from the books and helps the plot so I don’t hate it.
A Boire (A Drink)
This scene is one of the most important scenes in the book as it’s when Quasimodo falls in love with Esmeralda after she gives him some water and pity. The song itself is fine, Quasimodo is emotional and pathetic as he tied to the pillory. I like how he is rocked back and forth as it’s a nice visual.
There isn’t really too much to A Boire though. It has a nice tonal shift with a march at the beginning then become sad and haunting. But that is pretty much it. It feels more like a bridge song to get us to the song of the show.
There is very little contest over what the star of the show is and it is Belle. For many it was that first song they heard from the show, myself included.
Belle is a highly emotional song as it perfectly expressives the feelings for Esmeralda from three different perspectives. Quasimodo sings about a tenderness with underlying sexual desires, Frollo sings about a conflictions of desires against seeing her as combination of evil and pure and Phoebus just can’t resist wanting to have sex with her even though it hurts his fiancee.
These perspectives are not only perfectly captured by the lyrics but the key changes. Quasimodo is sweet and melodic, Frollo is a little stronger and his a heavy drum beats, and Phoebus has a more rock-like vibe.
The staging is also wonderful. Pending on the version, Quasimodo either sits on top of the pillory for his part or his hands are still tied but he can make lunges towards Esmeralda. With him on the pillory it makes the part seem more dream-like but the other way makes him seem more protective towards Esmeralda. Frollo and Phoebus more of less just stare intently at Esmeralda, though Frollo knells before her and Phoebus motions toward Fleur-de-Lys. At the end when they all sing together Esmeralda lies on the floor in a crucifixion like pose as the three mean close in around her, foreshadowing these loves are fatal for her.
If I had one criticism of this song, it’s that I don’y have any criticism of it. It’s pretty perfect. Well maybe one but it has to with the staging, what are those guys doing with Fleur-de-Lys. they like push her around and then Phoebus saves her? Huh? Is it to show Phoebus likes Fleur-de-Lys while still desiring Esmeralda, because we kind of got that already. It’s just weird. But again that is staging and not the song.
Get the whole GLORIOUS ALBUM HERE
Doing four songs this week.
La Fête des fous (The Feast of Fools)
Much like Bohémienne, La Fête des fous is a fun uptempo number with a lot of dancing. It brings us to the start of the book so to speak.
Unlike the book Gringoire isn’t merely having his play ignored, he is running the show much like Clopin in the Disney version. This song also introduces us to Quasimodo, who make his first appearance on stage during this number. AT first he walks down, through the openings of the rock climbing wall of Notre Dame. To be honest it’s not that dramatic but then again there was no build up to Quasimodo so it’s not that bad. Also it might be different if you’re sitting in the audience and you see this shadowing figure vs having a fixed perceptive with edits. Though the flip side of that is you get to see Quasimodo’s expressions which are adorable.
I really do love the lighting, the dancing and Gringoire’s energy in this number however this song is not a favorite of mine. It’s really one note and even for this musical it’s SUPER receptive, take a drink every time they sing La Fête des fous and you will smashed in less than three minutes.
Request – Someone make a Notre Dame de Paris drinking, please drink responsibly
Le Pape des fous (The Pope of Fools)
I mentioned last time about a top ten worst songs of Notre Dame de Paris list, well Le Pape des fous ranked in at number #10.
Why? There are a few reasons but number one, for an introduction song it’s a stall and it gets a very core aspect of Quasimodo’s character just wrong and for a show that is regarded as one of the most accurate to the book it’s just a big problem. That being Quasimodo express a desire for Esmeralda prior to her doing anything nice. Maybe I’m just a book purest but he is basing his affections of her looks but get mad at other for judging him on looks.
The one things I like is that Quasimodo gets a little mad and hoisting him into the air but it’s still a dull introductory song that got its character wrong. On the other hand, most people think this song shouldn’t have been on the worst list.
La Sorcière (The Sorceress)
Ah yeah this song, at one point I had that opening guitar rift as my ring tone. I also love Frollo’s point, classic him. Also spit sync, delightful.
So while I do like La Sorcière it’s a silly little bridge song meant to move the plot forward. It also gives us some insight into Frollo and Quasimodo’s relationship which flows into the song.
L’Enfant trouvé (The Orphan)
The reason why we have four songs this week instead the three* is because La Sorcière and L’Enfant trouvé flow into some much that it’s like they are one song. THough there is a melody and subject shift that it is clear but the way the transition is done in La Sorcière it mean they are companion songs.
Anyway L’Enfant trouvé goes deeper into the Frollo and Quasimodo. It’s the same as it in the book really. However Quasimodo adds that he doesn’t know Frollo’s heart. It’s really great how Frollo is like cold and emotionless as Quasimodo bares his devotion out to him. Gotta love Quasimodo emotions in this song. Is it the best song in the show, nope but it‘s okay.
(Four songs might be a norm, damn bridge songs)
Get the whole GLORIOUS ALBUM HERE