This is one of those videos that deserves the title of special. And long. And it's most certainly not for everybody, thought that those for who it is, it's a Yipes! And I'll give a few signposts so that others just jump through it to certain highlights.
It's Man of La Mancha, performed in Brusselles in 1998. No, not highlights or the songs -- but the whole freaking thing! It goes by the name L’Homme de La Mancha (which is the title of the show when done in France, translated by Jacques Brel), but as you'll see, it also goes under the name Der Man Aus La Mancha.
Lest you be horrified of watching an entire foreign production of a musical, know that many years ago when I was in Holland on an American Youth Hostel bike trip of Europe, I saw that the national Dutch company was doing this same Man of La Mancha in a nearby city, and I bicycled over. (It will not shock you to learn that I couldn't convince any others to join me.) It went by the title of Der Man Von La Mancha -- I still have the program. And it was wonderful. I'd seen the show a couple times before, so I had a good enough idea of what was going on, and most people should here, too. And I figure it's not all that different from people going to see operas that are done in foreign language. Except in this, you can sign along with many of the numbers...
This production seems to be a cross between fully staged, and a concert version. The sets are very sparse, though that's not far from the original production. One thing missing though is the intentionally oppressive staircase that comes down from the sky, interrupting Cervantes telling of his tale using her fellow-prisoners in the roles, and bringing the reality of The Inquisition back into their lives.
(If you haven't seen it, Man of La Mancha is a show in a show. Cervantes was a tax collector who was arrested for making the mistake of taxing the wealthy and powerful. The prisoner claim his property, but when they set out to burn a manuscript of his, Cervantes begs them to stop. He pleads guilty of foolishness to their kangaroo court, but insists on offering his explanation. And that is his telling the tale of what's in his manuscript, and uses the prisoners in the various roles.)
Without the monolithic staircase, they need to change the powerful ending, as Cervantes slowly walks up it with his manservant behind -- as much a dreamer as his Don Quixote of his tale -- as the emotional prisoners serenade him to...oh, you know. "The Impossible Dream." This production by necessity has a more low-key stage, but is effective for it. Still, I prefer the staircase. It's darn dramatic, I'm here to tell you.
There's also an oddity about this television production. It has French subtitles during songs which, as far as I can tell, are being sung in French.
As a TV show, it begins with behind-the-scenes rehearsals and an homage to the original Broadway production and that of Jacques Brel.
If you want to jump past all that, the actual musical begins at 9:55.
If you want to jump to the first song, that comes around the 22-minute mark.
And if you just want to see "The Impossible Dream," that's at 1 hour and 13 minutes.
As for jumping around to just see the other songs, you're on your own there. But there's plenty of them, so you'll have a lot to find and choose from.
Here then are Jose van Dam and Alexise Yema, under the musical direction of conductor (are you ready for this name?) -- Patrick Baton.
This is the Theatre Royal de Liege and the Opera Royal de Wallonie.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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