The young ballet dancers of the L’Ecole de Danse de l’Opéra de Paris move elegantly and quickly through the rehearsal rooms of the house. The slight tension that spreads among the young girls, the oldest of whom is just 17 years of age, pervades the atmosphere – an atmosphere made, as it were, for the painter Edgar Degas. On the programme this evening is Coppélia, or the girl with the enamel eyes by Léo Delibes. The excitement among the girls is great because today they will be performing in the (reproduced) scenery and costumes which at the premiere on 25 May 1870 had delighted Emperor Napoleon III and the Empress. The first choreography of the work was undertaken by Arthur Saint-Léon (1821-1870), a violin and dance virtuoso famous at that time. He died of a heart attack at the age of 49, only a few months after the premiere. Over the years many arrangements and choreographies have been made of the piece. The version on this DVD is by Pierre Lacotte, the great ballet expert who has received many honours, and Claude Bessy, the long standing director of the ballet school at the Paris opera.
Hard on the heels of a triumphant Lohengrin, Decca follows up with an equally astonishing debut performance from Jonas Kaufmann: Goethe’s love-lorn hero Werther, in Massenet’s romantic opera. His premiere appearance in the role, in Paris in January 2010, took the French operatic world by storm, his performance being hailed by Le Monde: “Werther is portrayed by the tenor of the moment, the German Jonas Kaufmann. He brings to the part a sublime timbre (warm, at times “baritonal” and musky), exceptional musicality, a very wide palette of tonal shadings and immaculate diction. Add to that his histrionic gifts and matinée-idol appeal and you’ve got a cocktail of qualities that rarely all come together at the opera.”
Notre Dame de Paris is a French-Canadian musical which debuted on 16 September 1998 in Paris. It is based upon the novel Notre Dame de Paris by the French novelist Victor Hugo. The music was composed by Riccardo Cocciante (also known as Richard Cocciante) and the lyrics are by Luc Plamondon.
Since its debut, it has played in Canada, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, South Korea and Taiwan. A shorter version in English was performed in 2000 in Las Vegas, Nevada (USA) and a full-length London production, also in English, ran for seventeen months. Popular songs from the show, such as Belle and Le temps des cathédrales have also been translated into Belarusian, Catalan, Czech, German, Lithuanian, Polish, Russian and English.
“Notre Dame de Paris”, according to the Guinness Book of Records, had the most successful first year of any musical ever.