"The time of the cathedrals", "Belle", "Bohemian", so many songs taken in heart - and in French - by an enthusiastic Chinese public. Four months after the fire of Notre-Dame de Paris, the eponymous musical is applauded in Beijing.
The success of the creation of Luc Plamondon and Richard Cocciante did not fall, 17 years after his last performance in Beijing in the language of Victor Hugo.
And the tour of China, which began in July in Shanghai and sold out for four weeks, gave the troupe an idea of the popularity of the show in a country fond of the author of "Les Miserables" and French-style musicals. .
"We have packed halls of very happy people every night," smiles Daniel Lavoie, the interpreter of Frollo, already present at the beginning of the musical in 1998.
Several hours before the first Beijing Thursday, a long line of impatient spectators is already stretching in front of the Tianqiao Theater and its 1,600 seats.
Some pose in front of the posters of the show or with photos of the 850 year old cathedral.
But the memory of the fire of the monument, April 15, remains strong for the public, and inseparable from the musical.
"When people talk about France, they think of Notre-Dame," said Jin Xiaoyu, a spectator in his twenties.
- 'My heart stopped' -
The disaster provoked a strong emotion among the Chinese. Photos and messages of solidarity flooded social networks.
"I knew a lot about Our Lady before the fire and I know how much she has played an important role in the history of humanity," said young Tang Yuyang, a young spectator.
"After the show, I am more upset by the beauty of the culture, fragile and irreplaceable," she says.
Directly inspired by the novel of Victor Hugo published in 1831, the musical tells the story of the gypsy Esmeralda, the "monster" Quasimodo and the priest Frollo, carried away by their fatal passion, against the backdrop of the famous cathedral, in full Middle Ages.
The show, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, was applauded by 11 million spectators at 4,300 performances in France and abroad, depending on the production. It has been adapted in seven languages.
China is also the first country where the troop is back on stage since the fire.
"I feel strangely like the archdeacon of Notre-Dame de Paris for 20 years, when I knew there was fire, my heart stopped," recalls Daniel Lavoie.
"I have the pleasure of singing the opening song + The time of cathedrals +", one of the most popular titles of the musical, recalls Richard Charest, aka troubadour Gringoire.
The fire of Notre-Dame was "something intimately personal: it's the house that was burning," he recalls, evoking the many fan messages received at the time.
"From the fire, I was told: + You will not sing the song in the same way. + And I must admit that it's true."
© 2019 AFP