Top positive review
Two very good performances, some attractive melodies, and one soaringly beautiful finale
on October 11, 2014
When I saw the DVD of the original production of Notre Dame de Paris, sung in French, I enjoyed it so much, especially the final song, that I sought out a CD of it. This CD, the English translation, seemed perfect, since I only have a slight familiarity with the French language. Notre Dame de Paris is essentially a rock opera, thus in that style, the repeated phrases of lyrics seem to fit. Granted, the English translation is not very elegantly done--after all, the translating lyricist was working off French lyrics whose essence had to be maintained plus fit the music, so I am not bothered by the repetition. The show is a spectacle, and the pounding music and pounding lyrics seem to be just right for what the authors and director were trying to accomplish. The cast members retained from the French production, Daniel Lavoie and Garou, are the strongest actors and singers. Garou, with his gravelly voice, is perfectly cast as the lumbering grotesque Quasimodo. And Lavoie captures the angst of the priest who has fallen for a gypsy girl, defying everything he has been taught and shattering his vows to the church. Tina Arena, however, is vocally not up to the task. She belts out her songs in true rock fashion, but her big number, Ave Maria, is completely devoid of emotion. It is very hard to get why three disparate characters are so infatuated with her. Granted, had I been watching her performance rather than simply listening, I might have come away with a different opinion. As for the music, some of it is not all that inspired, but two numbers stand out, Belle and the finale Dance My Esmeralda. The three suitors sing their longing in Belle, and it is a lovely melody. Garou's performance of Dance My Esmeralda is heartbreaking, tender and majestic all at once, and the refrain is soaring and beautiful. In fact, when this track comes on in my car, I play it over and over. I absolutely love it. I can't say this is a great show, judging it from this recording and the DVD performance, but it is entertaining. And that song--I can't get it out of my head. Note: the listing implies that Celine Dion is in this show; in effect, the CD begins with her recording of one of the songs, then the rest is the cast of the show performing the songs in order of performance.