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

Le Portes de Paris (The Gates of Paris)

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

Gringoire singing Le Portes de Paris

This song is kind of funny and I don’t mean like it’s hilarious, I mean this song set-ups a trend in Notre Dame de Paris that is very clear in all three of these songs. Where the plot and story are reduced to one or two lines of song over setting up mood or emotion. Typically this is fine but in this chunk of the overall story we kind of need story being told.

In Les Portes de Paris, Gringoire tells us he met a girl, followed her and lost her. That’s it. It’s like drive-by exposition. I mean if you don’t know he meant Esmeralda, would you REALLY know he meant her? The rest of the song tells us Paris is a dark and sexy place. It’s very moody and Gringoire is a delight in the song but alas isn’t a little more than forgettable.

Tentative d’enlèvement (Kidnap Attempt)

Phoebus and Esmeralda Tentative d'enlevement Helene Segara Patrick Fiori Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Phoebus and Esmeralda

Ah, yet another song to make that worst list, at number six. First off what the fuck? This song depicts the critical scene where Quasimodo tries and kidnap Esmeralda. This is also the scene in the book where Esmeralda and Phoebus meet for the first time. And it just all so sloppy in Notre Dame.

So when Quasimodo goes in for the kidnap, Esmeralda is in mid-run from some weird extra, so it just looks like she is running from the other guy and not even Quasimodo, so that ruins it.

However that not even the tip of the messed up-ness of Tentative d’enlèvement. When Phoebus saves Esmeralda he puts the moves on her and she rebuffs him, telling him he as gotten the wrong girl as Esmeralda isn’t a soldier-girl. So then what happens? He tells he he’ll meet her at a brothel the “Cabaret de Val d’amour.” And for whatever that line worked and she’s now like Phoebus, in fact later on she says her heart beats for him, but I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s just like what! In under two minutes the ruined a very pivotal scene.

The music for the song is okay, it has a nice mystery and dark tone but it’s not enough to save the song.

La Cour des Miracles (The Court of Miracles)

Luck Mervil as Clopin from Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Luck Mervil as Clopin from Notre Dame de Paris



At last another big number. La Cour des Miracles tells us about the Court of Miracles and Clopin’s outlook on the world as a world without much divide of status and religion. Then there is the drive-by exposition where Gringoire just literally pops in, is hanged in a bag, which looks like fun and married off. Any humor of the scene is gone.

As far of the song itself, it’s fun and has good enegry. I do like Clopin singing it off a gilder from the ceiling. Not a favorite song of mine but far from the worst. I kind of wish that the camera guy got more of Gringoire and Esmeralda dancing.

Speaking of Esmeralda and Gringoire, other version added lines for them, where Esmeralda tells him that she is not into him which the next song did anyway so it was a weird addition.

Get the whole GLORIOUS ALBUM HERE

Bohémienne

Esmeralda Helene Segara Bohemienne Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Esmeralda

Bohémienne is one of the few upbeat songs in Notre Dame de Paris. Pending on the cast you’re watching the number can be more upbeat, as most Esmeraldas do have dance choreography. The trouble with some Esmeraldas, is that even though they are dancing, the choreography can look REALLY mechanical. Some Esmeraldas can pull it all like Lola Ponce of the original Italian cast and Baba of the Korean version but most Esmeraldas it like arms up, run back. arms up again and now twirl. Helene Segara at least looks natural in her movements regardless whether not she is dancing, she isn’t but there are a few little steps in there.

Bohémienne tells us a little bit of Esmeralda’s origins and out look on life. She’s a wander and enjoys the unknown. She is also a dreamer and really dreams of going to Spain. Despite the upbeat nature of the number there is this hint of bittersweetness. The combination of tones gives this songs a nice complexity and interest.

It’s a really great introduction for Esmeralda and fun number.

Esmeralda Tu Sais, (Esmeralda, You Know,)

tu sais Esmeralda and Clopin Helene Segara Luc Mervil Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Esmeralda and Clopin

I once made a Top Ten Worst Songs of Notre Dame de Paris list and this song was there, at number three no less. This songs works to tells us more on Esmeralda’s backstory with regards to Clopin. Basically he raised her when she mother died. In the song he warns her about guys and his own rising interest in her.

Here the thing about Esmeralda tu sais and why it made my list, it’s REALLY boring. The melody, orchestration, tone are like valium. It doesn’t highlight the singer it anyway and makes Clopin sound like he is droning. In other cast versions, they tried to fix the song by making it a duet with Clopin and Esmeralda which is nice and Clopin gets more angry about the world but it didn’t really help anything, it’s still dull a rusty nail.

The ONLY thing I can give the song is showcasing Clopin’s gentler side but I mean they could have written a better melody, it’s just one of the weaker songs in the show.

Ces diamants-là (These Diamonds)

Julie Zenatti as Fleur-de-Lys with Patrick Fiori as Phoebus, Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Julie Zenatti as Fleur-de-Lys with Patrick Fiori as Phoebus, Notre Dame de Paris

Ces diamants-là is Fleur-de-Lys introduction song. Just so we’re all clear, Fleur-de-Lys is Phoebus’ Fiancee. Isn’t it great that Notre Dame de Paris introduces Fleur-de-Lys before Quasimodo? I think it is!

Ces diamants-là tells us about Fleur-de-Lys and Phoebus’ relationship. Fleur-de-Lys who is young in this version but is wise to Phoebus’ playboy ways in that she says even if his romantic lines are lies she doesn’t care. She is smitten with him and Phoebus whether or not is he is lying or sincere does seem to be interested in marring her.

The song is sweet but there is more at play. They way they circle around each other and pull way speaks to a power dynamic and really way they do it speaks to Fleur-de-Lys having more control than Phoebus. This could be because Phoebus is a slut who can’t help himself or that it’s Fleur-de-Lys who has the monetary upper-hand like she does in the book. The melody while it’s quite pretty seems a little off, like almost a little diabolical, like a little foreboding with those drums. In that sense it’s the perfect depiction of Phoebus and Fleur-de-Lys‘ characters in the musical.

Get the whole GLORIOUS ALBUM HERE

I might discuss aspects from other casts but I’m going to keep it to the original cast.

Le Temps des Cathédrals (The Age of Cathedral)

 

Bruno Pelletier as Gringoire singing Le Temps de Cathédrales Notre Dame de Paris  picture image

Bruno Pelletier as Gringoire singing Le Temps de Cathédrales

This is the first number of the show. It’s sung by Pierre Gringoire who acts mainly as a story teller. The song tells us about the changing times and how teh Cathedral once prominent and important to society is falling away and that population is changing too as people seek refuge in Paris.

The song itself is very mysterious with a touch of bittersweetness. The songs also have a great build and there is a nice reveals of the stage as the song builds. It starts with a bare stage and Gringoire but slowly layers of screens are pulled back to reveal the set pieces.

Le temps des cathédrales is also a great showcase for Gringoire’s voice. Bruno Pelleteir has such an expressive voice. Also with all the power and build up and the enegry Gringoire to into the song it transition to the nest song very nicely.

Les Sans Papiers (Those without Papers)

 

Luck Mervil as Clopin singing Le Sans Papiers, Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Luck Mervil as Clopin singing Le Sans Papiers

Just a little clarication papers meaning without passport, or without legal documentation which I don’t think they would have had in 1482, could be wrong but it a big deal these days and the Refugee were a big issue in France at the time this musical came out so it’s topical.

So what is interesting about Notre Dame de Paris is that even though they didn’t start it the same way as the book they do introduce the characters at roughly the same points. This songs in Clopin asking for refuge for his people. There is also the same tone of change.

There is a great power and darkness to Le Sans Papiers. It’s interesting that a song that is basically begging would have such a forceful tone to it. There is also a menace and urgency that makes this song exciting by the end.

It also the first number with dancing. Notre Dame de Paris has a lot of dancing. For this particularly number the dancing is a little weird. I don’t know a ton or anything about dance, heck I was run out of tap dance class at the age of six, I’m the last person who should critic dance but while I think the dancing in this number is effective to the tone and mood of the song I don’t care for it. Some of it look like spazing out, which I excel out. I did like that walk out and throw down move.

Also during this song you can see Frollo looming in Notre Dame, as played by a rock climbing wall. And as indicated by the next song, this song did not melt Mr. Frollo’s icy heart.

Intervention de Frollo (Intervention of Frollo)

Daniel Lavoie as Frollo singing Invention de Frollo Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Daniel Lavoie as Frollo singing Invention de Frollo

This is the first song that is a little different between the cast version. Frollo commands Phoebus to arrest the people and he complies. In the original cast he tries to arrest Esmeralda and is taken with her. In other versions, after getting the order Phoebus finds Esmeralda dancing and is taken. It’s both a HUGE difference and not. With her dancing it clarifies Esmeralda as a dancer but the transition is not smooth. With the arrest we lose her a bit as dancer but it makes for a better transition. Though it’s a transition that exist within the song.

As bridge song, Intervention de Frollo is okay. It’s very staccato but gets the point across of Frollo authority and coldness and Phoebus‘ conformity and interest in pretty girls.

*I might translate these with crummy translations or go by the English titles. which can also be crummy.

GET THE WHOLE GLORIOUS ALBUM

Luck Mervil as Clopin from Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Luck Mervil as Clopin from Notre Dame de Paris

Clopin is a complex character in Notre Dame de Paris. He is both intense and tender. If he differs between the cast versions, it’s it most likely that the he is either playing up his intenseness or keeping it to the base level for the character.

tu sais Esmeralda and Clopin Helene Segara Luc Mervil Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Esmeralda and Clopin

Like in the Book Clopin runs the the Court of Miracles. It is a little vague if the Court of Miracles is strictly his group of Gypsies and refugees or beggars but I think it the combination. Speaking of which, Clopin and Esmeralda go way back. When Esmeralda’s mother died, she trusted Esmeralda’s care to Clopin so he is like a father-figure to her. This relationship is complicated for Clopin as Esmeralda grows and becomes a beautiful woman, he starts seeing her as in a romantic light which  he doesn’t seem to like that much.

Luck Mervil as Clopin from Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Luck Mervil as Clopin from Notre Dame de Paris

Like Esmeralda, Clopin hates distinctions between of race, culture and social class. Clopin dislike of these facet of human nature is where Esmeralda got them in the place. This also also makes up the core subject of most of Clopin’s songs, the other subject is Esmeralda.

Luck Mervil as Clopin from Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Luck Mervil as Clopin from Notre Dame de Paris

Because Clopin is so focus of the blight of his people and social inequality he does have the fun and somewhat carefreeness of other Clopins. Of all other Clopin, I think Notre Dame de Paris is the least fun. He does make a few quips like that Poets are only fit to be hanged and he looks like he have fun during that number, tough who wouldn’t singing on a suspended metal girder, it has to be fun. Though Gringoire getting to swing around in that bag looks fun too.

Luck Mervil as Clopin from Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Luck Mervil as Clopin from Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris Clopin does differ from the book as, Clopin in the book didn’t care about social inequality, he just wanted to beg and drink. While I do sprout purity to the book, I do like this changed to character. It gives him interest and more purpose.

Luck Mervil as Clopin from Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Luck Mervil as Clopin from Notre Dame de Paris

Clopin in Notre Dame de Paris is less fun than other version but he has the most social conscious of the Clopin and that makes him an interesting and compelling version of the character from the book.

Next Time Fleur-de-Lys

Julie Zenatti as Fleur de Lys Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Julie Zenatti as Fleur de Lys Notre Dame de Paris

These videos are from “Chabada” a French Tv Show from Decemeber 4 2011 with the orginal cast of Notre Dame de Paris (except Bruno Pellatier) right before the reunion concerts. The last video is the whole thing, so if you have 50minutes to kill, give it a watch or watch the song clips. I think I got all them. Enjoy!

 

 

The Original  Troupe of Notre Dame de Paris singing at Bercy Concert picture image

The Original Troupe of Notre Dame de Paris singing at Bercy

In the second week of December 2011 we (the world) were treated to four performances of Notre Dame de Paris by the original  cast/troupe in both Paris and in Kiev. The troupe sang the show in a concert style with a full orchestra and a choir. This marks the second year the troupe has done this but the first year they performed in Paris together since 1999. There were talks of a reunion of the original troupe getting together to perform Notre Dame de Paris since May 2009 when Helene Segara mentioned the prospect in an interview (Click HERE to read that interview).

Notre Dame de Paris Concert Poster image picture

Notre Dame de Paris Concert Poster

So  why did it take them so long reunite? Well it actually it’s the some reason why they have been doing the concerts. Notre Dame de Paris made a lot of the original cast’s careers and they enjoyed a fair amount  of popularity from the show. However over the years the cast’s popularity has been waning. Let’s just look at Helene Segara’s music career. When Segara recorded her studio album “Coeur De Verre” in 1996 it peaked number 6 in France. In 1998 she was cast as Esmeralda, in 2000 she released her second studio album “Au Nom D’une Femme” which peaked at number 2 in France. Her album “Humaine” top at number 1 as well as “Quand L’Eternité” in 2006. However her 2009 album “Mon Pays C’Est La Terre” peaked at 19. Quite a fall, and it’s not like the album is terrible, I like it, I even used one of the songs in an Anime Music Video to Romeo X Juliet (click to watch). In 2010, Segara and the rest of the Original Troupe performed the show in a concert format in Kiev, St Petersburg and  Moscow. Her latest album “Parmi La Foule” which was released in 2011 peaked at 9 on the French chart.  Coincidence, No, I think the concerts are a way for the Original Troupe to get back in the spotlight. That is not to say that I think the concerts are some sort of ploy to make money. I think the people invovled with them love the show and the music and the original troupe seem to respect the fans and like performing the show.

 

Helene Segara and Garou on Stage in Kiev picture image

Helene Segara and Garou on Stage in Kiev

Now how were the concerts this year? I can’t give a full answer as I couldn’t go to either Paris or Kiev and concerts are one those things that you need to be there for. And watching Youtube videos shot/uploaded by fans who were there is not fair to base an assessment on. However watching videos, I must admit I was a little disappointed. It seems to me that with the Kiev performance the Troupe were pushed into a corner of the stage (by the harp) and  just  stayed in that corner or the didn’t really move around the stage much. The weird part is that you can tell they want to act the show, Daniel Lavoie (Frollo) does his Frollo posture with stiff hands. It’s a little forgivable because watching the video the Kiev Stage looks small and there is a full orchestra on stage.

Helene Segara performing Bohemienne at Bercy Concert  picture image

Helene Segara performing Bohemienne at Bercy Concert

Which brings me another problem I had, the full orchestra. Yes, orchestras are lovely and provide great energy, but I really don’t care for the arrangement of the songs. I hate to use Segara as an example again but let’s  look at Bohemienne as an example. Bohemienne is one of the few upbeat songs in the show. The orchestra at the Bercy concert gave Bohemienne a slower tempo and upped the Middle-Eastren vibe, which I liked (even if it only makes sense because Helene Segara is part Armenian). But  the slower pace just makes it seem melancholy, the only thing to saves it is Segara puts the energy back into the song with her performance, even if she is not dancing.

 

Garou, Daniel Lavoie and Patrick Fiori performing Belle in Bercy picture image

Garou, Daniel Lavoie and Patrick Fiori performing Belle in Bercy

Also one more thing, and this a personal thing, I have an issue with Belle (Staging). The point of Belle is that three men sing about a woman but when the Trio sings it where is the “Belle”, why isn’t Segera on stage? She was on stage last year for the concerts. I mean it’s one thing if the trio is performing on a TV show and Segara is not there but she’s there no excuse, she should have been on stage in some capacity.

 

Notre Dame de Paris Original Troupe Promo Picture  Image

Notre Dame de Paris Original Troupe Promo Picture

There are other things I can harp on but I confess that I can forgive my disappoints, because had I been there the thrill of it would eclipsed my critical mind and I would have been lost in the spectacle of it all. It’s very easy to be critical when you’re not there. I do think it wonderful that the Original Troupe has done these concerts. I do hope they will perform the concerts on the other side of the Pond as half the cast are Canadians. I know there were rumors about it last summer but Garou was in Cirque Du Soleil in New York, so that didn’t happen. So we’ll if the Troupe does more concerts in the future, I hope they do.

Patrick Fiori and Julie Zenatti performing Notre Dame de Paris in Bercy picture image

Patrick Fiori and Julie Zenatti performing Notre Dame de Paris in Bercy

Bruno Pelletier performing Notre Dame de Paris in Bercy picture image

Bruno Pelletier performing Notre Dame de Paris in Bercy

Luck Mervil performing Notre Dame de Paris in Bercy picture image

Luck Mervil performing Notre Dame de Paris in Bercy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garou and Helene Segara performing Ma Maison c'est Ta Maison in Kiev picture image

Garou and Helene Segara performing Ma Maison c’est Ta Maison in Kiev

Julie Zenatti performing Notre Dame de Paris in Bercy picture image

Julie Zenatti performing Notre Dame de Paris in Bercy

Garou and Patrick Fiori giving Daniel Lavoie a Kiss in Bercy during the Notre Dame de Paris Concert picture image

Garou and Patrick Fiori giving Daniel Lavoie a Kiss in Bercy during the Notre Dame de Paris Concert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Helene Segara performing Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Helene Segara performing Notre Dame de Paris