Notre Dame de Paris, version symphonique.

Notre-Dame de Paris.

Is a musical based on a book by Victor Hugo. Everyone knows that. 

And everyone knows the musical that became so successful towards the end of the nineties, and that has been ever since thoroughly promoted by the ever-so-romantic local radio station Nostalgie. 

But Notre-Dame de Paris is another story for me. It's Dina and I writing up the lyrics (not without mistakes) to Belle in Jdita. It's us trying to tape the song to a cassette, then playing it over and over again. Notre-Dame is that summer of 2001, where an estranged cousin of mine came for the first and only time to Lebanon. It's that summer of 2001, where we saw the Notre Dame spectacle in Beiteddine, but not with the original cast. [Sadly, the only thing I remember of the spectacle is the booklet that I still own, and my being outraged at finding out that Phoebus was trying to sleep with Esmeralda, something that my mom tried not to reveal to my eleven-year-old self, but to no avail]

Notre Dame is the soundtrack to my first trip to Paris. It's mom and I walking on the Champs Elysées, then into Virgin, where I bought the CD of the entire musical for something around 400 francs. It's opening the CD box and dropping that chocolate ice cream inside, before the play button had even been hit. [The mark is still there.]

It's the obsession that ensued.
It's my sleeping at night, and picturing myself as Esmeralda, then beating myself up, trying to figure out how in earth I was going to act in that final scene, where Esmeralda is hung, without the rope actually choking me. 

Notre Dame de Paris is the music of my teenage years. 

So it was no wonder that my heart started beating fast and furious when Pelletier began with "Il est venu le temps des Cathédrales." And it was no wonder that a tear almost made its way out of my eye. 

The music was beautiful. The philharmonic orchestra was wonderful, and the artists, that I could see, pint-sized and with quite some difficulty from between the tall people who sat in front of me [and swayed their heads incessantly] were everything my eleven-year-old self had ever imagined. Of course, the years had made me possessive towards the music, towards the artists, towards Notre Dame de Paris. And it was a given; if I ever met these artists, they would recognize me, and we'd fall into each other's arms.

In case you're wondering, they didn't recognize me.

But I religiously sang along to song after song. I gave no care for the people next to me; whether they could hear me or not [actually, nobody can ever hear me speak, so I was safe]. I smiled stupidly at the artists, standing far, far away. The whole thing was delicious. They had all grown older, but the strength, the passion and the emotion in their voices had remained intact. The plague of the goosebumps had touched us all, no question. I was in heaven.

The videos I filmed were my favorite pieces. Needless to say, I'd forgotten to erase the pictures from the memory of the camera. That had to be done mechanically as I watched. 

Came the dreaded end, I clapped so hard that I'm sure my palms turned red. And when everyone went to the front of the stage, I rushed too, pushing between people to listen to them sing "Belle", once more, in arabic this time, to have just one glimpse of those standing on stage. Those who were the true heroes of my youth. [I'm not old; I'm just older.] Heroes that I wanted to meet, to address, to hug, and to thank. And to become best friends with.

Which begs the question. Why the love? How the love? How is it, that all of us knew the songs by heart? How was it that all of us had this indescribable affection towards Notre Dame de Paris. How was it that we all shed tears as we watched the spectacle? What was the secret?
Success. Success must have been the secret.

Until then, here are some of the pictures that I snapped. [I would have shared the videos as well. That is, if I lived outside of Lebanon. I wouldn't want to tease my internet. It gets upset so easily.]


"Le temps des Cathédrales"

After "Belle".

The artists, moved. By us.

This is the closest I got to the stage!

ps: the concert took place last week, I just took some time to wrap up the post. Mainly because I was stuck at the [connection-free] mountains during the weekend! 


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