Chiaroscuro. Synchronicity once again. The rediscovery of Caravaggio’s The Taking of Christ in my last post reminded me of an earlier post, Farsa di chiaroscuro that, in turn, reminded me of the next post, Chiaroscuro Redux.  I had fully intended a post from the works of French Romanticist Eugène Delacroix, but on that day he did not inspire.  Today he does.

My calendar says Thursday, July 14th is Bastille Day, commemorating the storming of the Bastille on the morning of 14 July 1789. Eugène Delacroix just happened to paint Liberty Leading the People,  commemorating the July Revolution of 1830, which toppled Charles X of France. It’s a different French Revolution, but the Phrygian cap she wears is supposed to be a symbol of the first French Revolution.

Eugène Delacroix - La liberté guidant le peuple (1830)

Delacroix and Victor Hugo were about the same age. Hugo was a French poet, playwright and novelist, among other things. He wrote The Miserable Ones  which translates as Les Misérables (the book was published in French in 1862.)

I’ve never read it. The 4-volume book is 1,400 pages long.  It has many subplots spanning the years 1789 – 1832. Ex-convict Jean Valjean is the main character in the story. He becomes a force for good in the world but cannot escape his dark past.  Hugo’s main theme is  social injustice in 19th-century France and the long-term effects of the French Revolution.

There is a musical based on the book which, unsurprisingly, is called Les Misérables.  Seen by nearly 60 million people worldwide in 42 countries and in 21 languages.  LES MISÉRABLES is undisputedly one of the world’s most popular musicals ever written, and is currently on its 25th-anniversary tour. 

LES MISÉRABLES originally opened in London at the Barbican Theatre on 8 October 1985

I’ve haven’t seen the musical either. I did see Camille  (see update below) in London about the same time Les Misérables opened (see caption  above) but that’s something else entirely.

Right. Bastille Day is this Thursday. The musical is playing at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles on that day.  It has been playing there since June 14th and July 31st will be it final performance. If I want to see Les Misérables, I’ll have one week to do so in May 2012.

UPDATE:   La dame aux Camélias  or simply Camille is the 1852 novel and play by Alexandre Dumas.  La Traviata is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi based on  Dumas’ play, La dame aux Camélias. I haven’t seen  La Traviata but I did see Wolfgang A. Mozart’s Don Giovanni several years ago.