Les Misérables - A grandious new production of the musical hit by the Saarland State Theater

by Angela Reinhardt ("Musicals", February/March 2003)

At the end of the day Ever since the performance rights were released two years ago, this revolutionary epic has gradually begun to assume a larger place in the repertoire of the German opera houses. 'Les Misérables' is a musical which can be well-cast with members of an opera house ensemble, in this way comparable to 'Sweeney Todd'.

Naturally Saarbrücken's director Kurt Josef Schildknecht makes references to the original London production, but he refrains from copying. Often the immense stage remains empty, as if to give the music itself more chance to assert itself - smoke and fog create atmosphere, a blue sky builds the background for Valjean's journey. In other ways a deliberately sparce stage setting creates strong images: countless hooks which hang from the rafters and point to the beginning of the industrial age, young Cosette dreaming on a swing high above and behind her dying mother Fantine, Thénardier's inn as a single enormous vat...

.... Especially responsible for making this ambitiously staged and intelligently cast production such an unusual event are conductor Scott Lawton and the Saarland State Orchestra. The large ensemble scenes sound simply remarkable, thanks to the vocal strength of such a large chorus. Lawton conducts with a compelling attention to dynamics and orients himself apparently on the quick tempos favoured by David Charles Abell in the 10th Anniversary Gala performance in London's Royal Albert Hall. If there were ever further proof needed that 'Les Misérables' can become even better when done by repertoire theaters: here it is!