14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, June 26, 20230 — Chanting the cry of “Freedom” — as thousands of voices throughout Cuba did on July 11, 2021 — became grounds for repression and imprisonment. So when actors in a concert performance of Les Miserables at Havana’s Martí Theater joined their wondrous voices to repeat the forbidden word, an authentic revolutionary fervor swept over the those present.
Victor Hugo published his novel Les Miserables thirty years after the anti-monarchist insurrection of June 1832, an uprising that saw the streets of Paris filled with barricades. The basest passions and highest ideals mixed with frustration and hope in this chaotic epic.
When the young, idealistic Marius sings, “Here they dreamed of revolution. Here is where they lit the flame. Here they sang about tomorrow, but tomorrow never came,” no one in the audience could have missed the similarity between these lyrics and events from recent Cuban history. Nor was it possible to miss the analogy of the shared hope — the day Cubans have been waiting for – when everyone proclaims in unison, “One more hour, one day more, one day more.”
I ask myself if, during these times of censorship, it might occur to some official at the Ministry of Culture to chastise the cast for the conviction with which they gave voice to the word freedom, or for the seditious call to a revolution for freedom.
The orchestra’s performance was as spirited as those of the singers. The only thing to which this would-be critic might object was the incessant projection of clips from the 2012 film of the same name (itself inspired by a 1985 stage version), which distracted from what was happening on stage.
Unfortunately, there were neither printed programs — at least not on Sunday, June 25 — that recorded the names of the cast members, nor even a poster at the theater’s entrance.
Thanks to widespread disregard for rules about not taking photos or recording videos during live performances, it was possible to post a clip of the production below. Though it was poorly shot, it is beautifully sung and worth a look.
I hope there is an encore.
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