Monday, December 16, 2002

C:\VIRGINIA>

The production of Les Miserables at the National Theatre was extremely well done, and no one on the cast was particularly disagreeable. In particular, the Eponine was easily the best Eponine I've heard so far and the Javert was almost as good as Philip Quast. Valjean, Fantine, Marius, and Enjolras were excellent but not quite as good as my preconceived images of the characters. The only character that didn't really shine was Cosette, but in her defense it's hard to do anything with a character role that isn't much more than a prop.

The staging and set changes were interesting, from the revolving stage to the Transformer-esque barricade. Sometimes the ancillary action of extras would detract from the focus on the main characters, but usually things ran well. The orchestra played well, if the trumpet was a little lacking to my trumpeter's ears. Because I know the score by heart, it was weird too hear how minutia had changed to shorten the show -- 4/4 transitions reworked in 3/4, or agogic accents shifted to allow passages to be sung in briefer spans. The one issue I've always had with Les Mis is the relative sameness of the orchestration. The colours are used so frequently that it becomes impossible to find a fresh sonority, and by Act II, all the orchestration has just become a static wash of sound -- still sweet but a little too syrupy.

All in all it was a good show. You should watch it sooner than later, since it'll be closing in March.

Last night's episode of Alias was easily the best one of season, although they're getting tough to top.

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