I first saw Les Miserables in London in 1985 it was part of a ‘hen party do’ and since that day I have been captivated by both the music and the story.
The original version that I saw stared Michael Ball as a very young Marius and Alun Armstrong as the cheating crooked innkeeper, Thénardier. I have now seen it several times, so when it was advertised as showing in the Auditorio de Tenerife Adán Martín I couldn’t wait to buy my tickets. I originally thought I would get them at the box office which opens a couple of hours before performances, then decided it was such a popular show there might be no availability, so back in September / October I went ahead and bit the bullet. I was slightly concerned about purchasing on-line because the website was all in Spanish and I hoped I would understand what was needed, but as it turned out it was extremely easy. I chose mid-price tickets and you get to select your seats. We were 14 rows from the stage and right on the centre aisle, we couldn´t have had better even if we had paid more. The first two rows are reserved for ‘dignitaries’ and press, the next are the most expensive but IMO being right at the front of the auditorium they are behind the orchestra and are on a level with the stage so you could get a crick in your neck looking up.
We drove up to Santa Cruz leaving a slightly cloudy but warm Chayofa only to find we were decidedly under-dressed as it was freezing in the capital and everyone heading for the theatre was wearing coats, scarves and strong shoes, even boots, however once inside it was warm. We easily found a place in the large car park opposite the Recinto Ferial, which is free, and were just a short walk from the Auditorio entrance.
For anyone who doesn´t know Tenerife’s equivalent of the Sydney Opera House, it is a majestic work of art, beautiful from every angle. Inspired by a Conquistador helmet, a leaping dolphin or perhaps a swooping seabird, it sits on the edge of the ocean and is commanding in its elegance. When the sunlight catches it during the day or the spotlights at night the mosaic rendering glistens and sparkles. It really is a must see building. Naturally it has some of the best acoustics in the world which takes me on to Saturday’s show.
Having previously seen the show I was not concerned that it would be in Spanish; in fact I can probably translate word for word the lyrics in all of the songs! However for anyone who doesn’t know the story it could be hard to follow. The scenes are dark, the main characters being lit by spotlights – in fact it was almost an exact replica of other shows. Except on two counts which I thought Santa Cruz did far better than anything I have seen in the UK. Both OH and I thought the scene where Javert throws himself from the bridge really had a Wow factor. As he went over the edge, the backdrop whirled and swirled and you felt you were falling with him. The other scene that I thought was more impressive was where Jean Valjean carries a wounded Marius through the sewers to escape and you literally travel through various routes under the city. Brilliant. Of course all the actors were first class, from Eponine, my favourite who always gets a pretty raw deal, to the sugary sweet Cosette, the hilarious Monsieur and Madame Thénardier, and even the children, I swear the little Gavroche sang in Spanish with a cockney accent.
The show was totally captivating, the score ranges from the rallying Do You Hear the People Sing and One Day More to the tear-jerking On my Own and it wasn´t surprising that it achieved a huge standing ovation.
What did surprise me with so many people attending (the theatre was filled to capacity) the speed we all got out of the car park and on our way home.
As cameras are not allowed to be used during performances I have added the following images from the internet.