Les Miserables – A Musical or an Opera?

January 4, 2013 1 Comment »
Les Miserables – A Musical or an Opera?

Despite the flawless performances by Hugh Jackman , Russel Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfreid, Eddie Redmayne and the entire cast of Le Miserables, I refuse to call it a musical.  It was an opera.  The difference is that an opera is a show with the entirety of its dialogue and songs are sung, and none are spoken where as a musical is a combination of both singing and speaking.  About 98% of Tom Hooper’s, Oscar winning director for Academy award winning film The King’s Speech, adaptation of  Les Mis was sung and it was magnificent.

The singing was recorded live and none of it was altered in a studio which ensured the actors’ authenticity and emotion in the film.  When Fantine (Anne Hathaway) sang the iconic song “I Dreamed a Dream”, every emotion Fantine felt, Anne felt as well.  She lost 25 pounds to play the role.  In the opening scene, Jackman ( Valjean) thirsted himself for 48 hours so he can look as flushed as he did.  Hugh, who starred in Broadway productions such as Oklahoma! , was fit for the role and used method acting as his opposite in the film, Hathaway.

Taking place throughout the French Revolution, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables is about Jean Valjean who was released from prison for stealing bread and how he saved his own life and the lives of others while running from the enforcer Javert.  Infused with a love triangle to attract a wider demographic, a few extra plot points and some deleted, it was as good if not better than the 1998 film version of Les Mis starring Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean, and will be as, if not more successful. It will be yet another film along with The Hobbit, Anna Karenina, Lincoln and Argo that will be a hot conversation within the Academy and throughout award show watchers everywhere. If you love musicals, this one (or should I say opera) deserves a solid A+.

“I Dreamed a Dream” official trailer:



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One Comment

  1. michelle February 24, 2013 at 12:43 am -

    I highly disagree that Les Miserables is an opera. An opera is a dramatic composition with arias and recitatives in it. Les Miserables does not even fit the description of an opera. It is just a sung-through musical (it’s not the only sung-through musical, either. Miss Saigon and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat are other noteworthy examples of sung-through musicals). In addition, the style of singing in opera is very very different from musical theatre singing.

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