Rarely has a French musical been advertised like this before. Billed as the "biggest musical event of the fall 98", Luc Plamondon (lyrics) and Richard Cocciante's (music) musicalization of Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (Notre-Dame de Paris in French) is highly awaited. One year prior to its opening, a big press conference has been held to announce the cast (read our feature on the press conference). And now, 7 months before its scheduled Sept. opening at the Palais des Congres, the cast recording has been released to introduce the score to the French audiences.
The cast recording of Plamondon and Cocciante's Notre-Dame de Paris (cd reference : Pomme Music 952 342) contains 16 songs performed by the artists who should create the role on stage, under the direction of Canadian Gilles Maheu. Boublil and Schonberg's adaptation of Hugo's Les Miserables has triumphed worldwide and in many languages, will Plamondon and Cocciante's Notre-Dame de Paris follow the same path ?
Luc Plamondon has written the lyrics of the biggest French musical theatre hit, Starmania, even if it qualifies more as a rock-opera. Like Notre-Dame de Paris, Starmania was released as a concept album before hitting the stage. The original production and the subsequent revivals have been very popular. A studio recording of Starmania can be heard in English, with lyrics by Tim Rice, featuring an all-star cast led by Cyndi Lauper, Tom Jones and Celine Dion. Canadian-born Plamondon has worked a lot with country fellow Dion.
French-Italian composer Richard Cocciante is known to Italian and French audiences, having collected a couple of hits from both sides of the Alps. Notre-Dame de Paris is Cocciante's first musical, but Cocciante has already collaborated a lot with Plamondon, writing with him a dozen of songs, including one for Dion.
Leading the cast of Notre-Dame de Paris is Israeli singer Noa as Esmeralda. But as always in Plamondon's musicals, most of the cast is from Quebec with Garou as Quasimodo, Daniel Lavoie as Frollo, Bruno Pelletier as Gringoire and Luck Mervil (from Haiti but raised in Quebec) as Clopin. French singers Patrick Fiori and Julie Zenatti complete the cast as Phoebus and Fleur-de-Lys. The stage production is scheduled to open in Paris next Sept. For tickets and information on Notre-Dame de Paris at the Palais des Congres, call 331 40 68 00 65. Runs Sept. 18 - Jan. 3.
-- By Stephane Ly-Cuong