A new production of Les Misérables has just recently reopened in Melbourne. I've never seen the stageshow, and didn't get to see it on my recent trip south of the border.
|but I walked past the theatre late at night|
There is a companion exhibition called Les Misérables From Page to Stage being held at the State Library of Victoria. I snuck a couple of hours for myself one day and headed up to the library. All the ads say you can buy tickets at Ticketek. Well you can, but you can also just rock up late Saturday afternoon, buy a ticket then and there, ($15 for adults) and walk in.
|You can just see the sculpture of Victor Hugo by Rodin through the entrance|
Hugo refused to sit for Rodin
This is the first time that this volume has left Europe- it even got to fly to Australia on its own business class seat- I've never done that... Les Misérables was a hit from the outset. The two volumes were first published in 1862 and all 6,000 copies sold out in one day! Everyone read it, rich and poor, and public readings were organised when copies sold out.
The universal appeal of Hugo's creation lies in its themes: the possibility that the condemned can rise above poverty and degradation to become good and honourable, and perhaps above all the fight for freedom of body and soul.
From June 1862 just two months after it's first publication in French, Les Misérables was published in nine languages and in serialised volumes around the world. The first stage production came the following year in 1863. There have been at least 48 film adaptations of Les Misérables. We see some of the worlds first theatrical merchandise with beautiful Les Misérables chocolate wrappers from 1890. We also see some volumes of Les Misérables from around the world, a collection of movie posters, and some of the costumes from the recent 2012 film adaptation.
Victor Hugo was also an artist and we see some of his pen and ink drawings and paintings in the exhibition. The famous image of Cosette used for the stage show is by Émile-Antoine Bayard and comes from the second illustrated edition of Les Misérables, a picture version is included in the exhibition.
|I resisted the catalogue on the day, |
but do wish I'd bought it
The second room is devoted to the stage adaptations and is interactive and much more hands on than you'd expect in an exhibition like this at a library.
|Cosette's wedding gown from the Australian tour 1987|
first worn by Marina Prior
|Stage props on display|
|You can take to the stage with|
|You can dress up in an array of costumes|
|There is a themed gift shop at the end|
with all manner of tshirts, books and paraphernalia
|Javert's keeping an eye on you as you leave the library.|
My friend Janine at Resident Judge went to the exhibition too. You can relive my trip to Musee Victor Hugo in 2010.
Les Misérables From Page to Stage is open 18 July to 9 November 2014
10-6 daily, until 9pm on Thursdays
State Library of Victoria
328 Swanston Street