When we arrived in Quebec City yesterday evening, the roads were packed with cars trying to get into the centre and the police were directing traffic to ease the congestion. Yes, yet again we’ve come to a city whilst there’s a carnival on. Celebrating its 400 year anniversary, the whole city is packed with visitors and this weekend in particular they have street entertainers and people dressed in traditional garb. Although Dougie went on a walkabout when we arrived, we wait until this morning before we take a closer look.
Can’t quite believe how different again it is from Toronto or Ottawa. It really is undeniably French. As it is a walled city and at the mouth of the St Lawrence river, it is exceptionally pretty and somehow I feel as if I’m in a French seaside town. The weather is perfect, lovely warm sunshine but not too humid for tramping round the city walls. Five minutes walk from the hotel is a gorgeous theatre, Le Capitole, and I notice they have Les Miserables on at the moment. One of my favourite musicals, Dougie and I saw it years ago in London and loved it. The box office is open so we tentatively ask about tickets. To our surprise, there is a performance tonight and there are tickets available. We book three seats there and then, though our son is not exactly overjoyed with the decision. The thought of sitting through nearly three hours of a musical is bad enough, but when we tell him it will be in French he has a bit of a strop. We try and change the subject and buy him an ice-cream; he says we owe him big time!
The theatre that evening our seats are quite high up in the balcony but the view is still good. Very unusual seating arrangements in the stalls; the seats are arranged around tables, like a cabaret show. In the minutes before curtain up, everyone downstairs is tucking into their dinner!
Try gamefully to translate the synopsis for the boys but I realise I’m making it up as I go along so tell them I’m sure they’ll get the idea as it gets going. The show is unbelievably good. At times I’m not quite sure what’s happening but the music is beautiful in any language and so emotional that I cry from beginning to end. The quality of the singing is superb and I am in awe of their talent. Fascinating to hear how they translate the songs so that the rhythm isn’t lost. “On my Own” becomes “Mon histoire” meaning “My Story”, “Bring him Home” (I sobbed rather loudly at this one) is “Comme un homme” meaning “Like a Man” and, oddly enough, “Castle in the Cloud” is “Une poupee dans la Vitrine” which is “A Doll in the Cabinet”.
The audience are rather tentative during the performance, they have no idea when to clap, especially when the music carries on after a song. To make up for their dithering, they positively explode at the end. The whole theatre gets on their feet, shouts, cheers, applauds wildly. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a standing ovation at a British Theatre. We pour out into the street after 11pm and the night air is balmy. Five minutes walk and we’re back at the hotel. Rory and Dougie are eating crisps and watching the Olympics; I’m wringing out my hankie, still sniffing and snivelling but singing my heart out…….