Sunday, November 21, 2010


Liberty,Equality,Fraternity, Versailles, France
Royal Bedroom, Versailles, France
Garden Balcony View, Versailles, France
Formal Garden, Versailles, France

Of all the music and specifically musicals I’ve experienced in life, Les Miserables is by far the most powerful and emotional that is life changing. The events draw upon Victor Hugo’s classic novel of the social and political turmoil around the Paris uprising of 1832. The music by Claude-Michel Shonberg and the unforgettable lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer soar out across the orchestra to deliver a permanent impression between your ears. In the spring of 2006 we had the good fortune to take a long anticipated trip to London and Paris. While in London, we followed Rick Steves' advice and stood in an early morning line for unclaimed theater seats for that evening’s performance of Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theater. We scored right center seats up front.

The experience was enhanced just a few days later as we walked the formal gardens and halls of the palace of Versailles where the French King Louie XVI and his wife Marie-Antoinette lived an extravagant, luxury loving, “let them eat cake” life with their court. We stood in the Queen’s Guard room where on October 6, 1789 a mob of revolutionaries who were starving in the streets of Paris stormed the palace at the outset of the French Revolution of 1789-1799. The two symbols of decadence and detachment from the common people were overthrown, but not without the ultimate sacrifice of many young patriots.

We have the power of the ballot box and electronic social media today. The patriots’ drinking song in a Paris tavern on the eve of their lost defiance in the barricaded streets is one of the most poignant toasting songs I have ever heard or sung and it almost always brings pause to collect emotions:

Drink with me to days gone by.
Can it be you fear to die?
Will the world remember you
When you fall?
Could it be your death
Means nothing at all?
Is your life just one more lie?

Drink with me to days gone by.
To the life that used to be.
At the shrine of friendship, never say die.
Let the wine of friendship never run dry.
Here's to you and here's to me.


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