Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Les Misérables

Victor Hugo published his massive tome in 1862; the English version of the musical theatre adaptation hit the stage in 1985. I suspect there might be renewed interest in Les Misérables because of the sensation caused by the singing of a song from the musical by an unassuming middle-aged woman on a British talent show.

In case you've not had a chance to catch the performance of Susan Boyle, do yourself the favor of checking out the link. At the time I'm writing this, the video has been viewed more than 41.8 million times.

That's right: million.

The Victor Hugo story is an intensely spiritual work, and the musical by composer Claude-Michel Schönberg and librettist Alain Boublil splendidly captures the triumph of good over evil which Hugo details. The song which Susan Boyle sang in her audition, "I Dreamed a Dream," is sung by Fantine, a young woman whose life had been particularly difficult, and was about to come to an end. The song ends with the words: "Now life has killed the dream I dreamed."

I'm not sure what pundits are saying about it, but my take on the phenomenon is this: Susan Boyle could not have sung a more ironic and heart-rending song, and people seem to connect at some level with the irony of a woman who's dreamed all her life of singing professionally, who'd been thwarted at every step, it would appear (until now), finally achieving her dream by singing that life had killed that dream....

A great Easter story, if you ask me.

Easter blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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