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Si moi j'ai le plus beau compliment à faire à un chanteur, c'est ça: il a sa signature. Tu l'entends chanter, t'as pas besoin de connaître la chanson, c'est Daniel Lavoie.

Bruno Pelletier

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Daniel Lavoie: Notre Dame de Paris challenged me in my 40s, a work that changed my life until in my 70s.


29.11. 2021

Daniel Lavoie, who has gray hair with open arms and a wide smile, showed off a pleasant energy different from charisma on stage. He returned to Korea after more than 10 months after the performance in Korea, which opened in November last year but due to COVID-19 ended early, He smiled and said, «I’m so happy». He told us that he regretted that he hasn’t enjoyed his stay in Korea on that first visit, because he joined the staff late and was only able to stay for 3 weeks.

«I had heard a lot from my fellow actors, about how passionate the Korean audience is, but unfortunately due to COVID-19 I could hear only their applause, but they were really impressive, so now I am convinced in what my fellow actors told me. I’m grateful that people always smile and treat me kindly. »

My first musical challenge was in my mid-40s with «Notre Dame de Paris» … «Coming back is a great luck.»

Daniel Lavoie, who plays the bishop «Frollo» in the musical «Notre Dame de Paris» is currently the only member of the original cast, to tell and prove the real story of the character’s life. He participated in the French original premiere in 1998 and is the world’s most famous Frollo. We met him at the Sejong Center of the Performing Arts on Nov 25th and he said, «I am so grateful to be able to play Frollo up till now. » «I still have complex emotions, which are too hard to put into words.»

As he recalled, «I felt like I was one of the Beatles» it (the original production of «Notre Dame de Paris») was very popular when it premiered in France. The musical was a huge hit, actors were spending busy days appearing in various TV programs, and after the performance, more than 500 to 600 fans flocked to them. «The whole Paris felt the craze.», he said. «(The craze) continued for at least a year. I was grateful, but sometimes it scared me. Now, it’s good to be able to enjoy the performance itself in a calmer atmosphere», he continued.

«Notre Dame de Paris» was his first musical debut. Already on the road to success as a singer, he first tried musicals in his 40s. «I released a lot of albums and performed a lot, but I wanted to challenge myself in a new genre called musicals. I didn’t know it would be that long, but if I think about it now, it was a very good decision, » he said. «I’m also lucky to be able to visit you again with this performance after 24 years.»

As a member of the original cast, he did not continue this performance constantly. Returning in 2017 after his last performance (with original cast), he joined the new team after much consideration, after receiving an offer from late producer Charles Talar to play Frollo again, the year before that. «I asked for a week of time to think, but after thinking a lot I actually understood, I wanted to do it again, I was curious if my role of  Frollo had changed, so I decided to come back again.»

He was Frollo in his mid-40s, but now he is 72 years old. «I’ve come to understand Frollo much better now», he added. «If this role was understood and played as a role of a bad person who makes everything difficult, at first, I think it (the role) is now more complex than the role of any other character. » He emphasized that he (Frollo) is a human character who is the most related to us and we can empathize him and his emotions.

In the play, Frollo is drowning in feelings such as confusion and desire, after he saw Esmeralda dancing. He follows her and becomes obsessed with her, which causes a conflict between his beliefs and carnal desire in him and this love turns him into madness.

«Without Frollo, I think it could become just a common love story. Because he makes a conflict, and because of that this work is three-dimensional and meaningful. I want the audience to hate Frollo, but also to feel compassion for him. I don’t know if I’m right, if it’s right to hate him, if he’s just a villain or a man who can’t control his emotions.»

He added, «I wonder if this work («Notre Dame de Paris») has been loved so far because it is a story that everyone can relate to, full of various emotions that go through in life.»

«Excellent singing skills? Practice is the only answer»… And he is a singer, musician, composer, writer and active actor.

The musical «Notre Dame de Paris», which consists only of songs without lines, captivates the ears with poetic lyrics and emotional melody numbers. There are many captivating songs such as «Le Temps des cathedrals» sung by minstrel and commentator «Gringoire» and «Belle» which has topped the French chart for 44 weeks and set a new record.

Among them, Daniel Lavoie shows outstanding singing skills with songs that show the internal conflicts and desires of Frollo, such as «Tu vas me detruire». Showing off the Senoir’s power, he said, «There is no know-how, but I have no choice but to work hard. I was born with a strong vocal cords», he said with a smile.

«I train hard for about two months before I go into the performance. To give a good voice to the audience, you have to practice hard. Especially because this cast consists of fellow actors who try to give 100% to the audience on stage every night. It’s a hard-working team, and I hope the audience can feel the same energy».

You have been tightly involved in (connected with) the Musical «Notre Dame of Paris» for more than 20 years. What does it mean to you? With a smile and a look full of nostalgia, he replied: «It is a work that has changed my life.»

«It makes me think a lot about how much Victor Hugo changed my life. As you know, this is my first experience in the musical genre, and it is so meaningful that I can talk endlessly how much my life changed from my mid-40s to my 70s because of it. If I made a list of the things this job changed in my life, it would be incredibly long.»

For example, he said that he had recently resumed his Italian classes. He is fascinated by Italy, he has had the opportunity to be there thanks to his international tours, he was also influenced by the fact that many of his fellow actors in the musical are Italians. «It may sound simple, but this work has given me so much. «He adds »As for the Korean language, it is on my long list of languages I want to learn, I hope I’ll have the opportunity to learn it … although I still don’t dare.»

Having been active as a singer, composer, writer (poet), and actor, he received the Felix Award several times in Quebec, Canada, and won four times at the «Victoire de la Musique» France’s leading music awards ceremony. Not only did he win the World Music Awards for «Belle» sung in «Notre Dame de Paris,» but he also released more than 20 albums. He published two poetry books and wrote songs for various foreign artists.

Regarding his future activities, He revealed that he is working on a musical with composer Richard Charest (Gringoire), He also said that he was inspired by Rimbaud’s poetry to work on music, etc.

«Rather than taking on new challenges like when I was young, I’m living in them, hoping that things will continue going smoothly. First of all, I want to make a good musical. I’ve never been in the position of a producer before, so I want to experience what it is like to watch a performance as a producer. I’m constantly working on everything (music, etc.), but I don’t set a specific deadline. Rather than being just successful, I’d prefer continuing to do what I am interested in and what I love.»

Interpreter: Varvara Ovechkina