Les Misérables is a popular musical composed by Claude-Michel Schönberg
. It was adapted from Victor Hugo’s classic novel by French librettist Alain Boublil, and translated and rewritten into English by Herbert Kretzmer. This is also the name of a popular Quebec rock’n’roll band from the 1960s.
The story primarily follows Jean Valjean, a convict imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread. After nineteen years, he is released on parole by the police inspector Javert. The saintly Bishop of Digne takes Valjean in and through his kindness persuades Valjean to change his life. Valjean moves to Montreuil-sur-Mer and becomes Mayor. He takes pity on Fantine, a worker who was layed off and became a prostitute due to his inaction, and accepts her dying wish to take care of her child, Cosette. Valjean flees from Javert, who is pursuing him for violation of his parole, and retrieves Cosette from the corrupt Thenardiers, who had been taking care of her. 15 years later, Valjean and Cosette move to Paris, where Cosette falls in love with Marius, a member of a group of students seeking to incite a rebellion. When Valjean learns that Marius is risking his life standing up against the military at a barricade, he joins the resistance and ends up saving the lives of Marius and Javert while all the other students are killed. Javert, unable to accept that Valjean has changed, commits suicide. At his wedding with Cosette, Marius inadvertantly learns who rescued him thanks to the Thenardiers’ greed. Marius and Cosette speak with Valjean one last time, learning his secrets before he passes away from old age.
The whole musical consists of arias and cantatas, with several large choral numbers and soliloquies. Most notable are Eponine’s “On My Own”, Valjean’s “Bring Him Home”, and Fantine’s “I Dreamed a Dream”. Chorally, “One Day More” is the higlight, as all the main parts sing on stage at the same time, although “Do You Hear The People Sing?” is a rousing march too.