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).
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’EternitÃ©” 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.