Notre-Dame de Paris, Ballet by Roland Petit
Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (or Notre-Dame de Paris as the original title goes) was published in 1831 and has enjoyed undying popularity since then. Among the many fans of the original work were two fellow Frenchmen, the composer Maurice Jarre and the choreographer Roland Petit who decided to create a ballet based on the famous novel. Thus Notre-Dame de Paris came to life. It was premiered at the Paris Opéra in 1965 and, just like its literary counterpart, has become part of popular culture to date. The bells of Notre-Dame ring once more on the stage of Teatro dell’Opera di Roma!
Maurice Jarre is primarily known as a composer of movie music, and he counts Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, Witness and Ghost among his many successful titles. To write a ballet was, therefore, a novel idea for him. Notre-Dame de Paris demonstrates Jarre’s movie sensibilities; it combines melody with character development and orchestration with movement beautifully. The choreography of Roland Petit, himself an artist at the cutting edge of his craft, was an ideal match for this modern approach to the classical genre of ballet. Both Jarre and Petit were newcomers to the Paris Opéra, and this project instantly established their impeccable reputation there.
Notre-Dame de Paris takes no liberties with Hugo’s original plot and instead dresses it in evocative music and captivating movement. We get to know the life and struggles of the kind and pretty Gypsy girl Esmeralda. Her charms attract the attention and desire of every kind of men; some are sincere and dedicated, while others seek to use and harm her. Esmeralda forms an unlikely bond with the disfigured Quasimodo, the bell-ringer at the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Can their friendship and the brewing feelings withstand the corruption and maleficence around them? Courtesy of Jarre and Petit, Notre-Dame de Paris takes audiences on a wild ride through this classic plot.