Rarely before has a musical been advertised in France as Cocciante and Plamondon's musical version of Victor Hugo's Hunchback of Notre-Dame is currently being advertised.
The week of Sept. 22, an official presentation of the musical took place outside the Palais des Congres and under one of the biggest bills ever shown in Paris for a theatrical production. Notre-Dame de Paris is scheduled to open in this theater in Sept. 18, 1998.
Dominique Fondacci, director of the Palais des Congres, expressed his wishes to make his theater the "Broadway of Paris". Pierre Hugo was proud to be there to represent his ancestor, Victor Hugo. Members of the production team were present to answer to the media.
Plamondon, a Canadian-born lyricist, is especially famous for the ever-popular rock-opera Starmania he wrote with the late Michel Berger. Starmania has even been translated into English by Tim Rice on a concept album, called Tycoon, released in 1992 and featuring artists such as Celine Dion, Cyndi Lauper and Tom Jones.
Cocciante, the composer, is mostly known as a singer but has written numerous songs for pop artists like Celine Dion. This production will mark his first musical theater composition. Notre-Dame de Paris will first be presented to the French audiences as a single CD to be released on November and a concept album to be released in January. The announced cast for this musical is somewhat international but mostly Canadian. From Canada will come Daniel Lavoie as Frollo, Garou as Quasimodo and Bruno Pelletier as Gringoire. France will be represented by Patrick Fiori as Phoebus and Julie Zenatti as Fleur de Lys.
Of course, much attention has been drawn to Esmeralda's character. The production team has searched for the perfect performer for months, auditioning seemingly every existing French and Canadian female performer with long brown hair. They came up with the name of Noa, an Israeli singer who has reached international success over the last years.
Presented as the "biggest event of the fall '98", Plamondon and Cocciante's Notre-Dame de Paris has now a year to make French audiences familiar with their score and their cast to be.
-- By Stephane Ly-Cuong