Starmania is a French/Québécois rock opera written in 1976 with music by Michel Berger and lyrics by Luc Plamondon. Some of its songs have passed into mainstream Francophone pop culture. The story references the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst.
In 1978, its first recording was released (in French), sub-titled Starmania, ou la passion de Johnny Rockfort selon les évangiles télévisés ("Starmania, or the Passion of Johnny Rockfort According to the Televised Gospels") with the leading roles filled by Daniel Balavoine, Claude Dubois, Diane Dufresne, Nanette Workman, France Gall, Eric Esteve and Fabienne Thibeault.
In 1979 the show was given its theatrical debut in Paris, starring Balavoine, Étienne Chicot, Dufresne, Gall, and Thibeault, followed by Canadian productions in 1980 and 1986 and French revivals in 1988 and throughout the 1990s.
In 1992, an English version of the show was created with the release of the album Tycoon, with lyrics by Tim Rice, and starring Celine Dion, Nina Hagen, Peter Kingsbery, Cyndi Lauper, Willy Deville, and Tom Jones in the principal roles on the recording. The American premiere of Tycoon, with English lyrics, was produced at the UTEP Dinner Theatre in El Paso, Texas in 1996, with Plamondon in attendance. It was staged in Paris alternatively with the French version for a few months.
Brief plot outline
In the near future, Monopolis, the capital of the recently united Occident, is terrorized by the Black Stars, a gang headed by Johnny Rockfort, who dances to the tune of Sadia, a student-agitator, originally from the upper crust, who cross-dresses at night and descends into the underground to hand out orders. They meet at the Underground Café, under the amused gaze of Marie-Jeanne, the robotic waitress.
Above this underground café stands the Golden Tower, a 121-floor building, the top of which is the office of Zéro Janvier, a billionaire getting into politics by running for the presidency of the Occident. He bases his electoral campaign on a return to order and on the construction of the new atomic world. Zéro Janvier thus becomes the sworn enemy of Johnny Rockfort and the Black Stars. It is in this framework that three parallel love affairs take shape and come undone: the impossible love of Marie-Jeanne for Ziggy, a young androgynous and mythomaniac record dealer; the sensational romance of Zéro Janvier and Stella Spotlight, a sex symbol who has just said farewell to the silver screen; and the passion of Johnny Rockfort and Cristal, a true nexus of the plot.
Cristal, the host and star of a TV show called “Starmania,” gets a call from Sadia offering her a clandestine interview with Johnny Rockfort, whose face no one knows. The get-together takes place at the Underground Café. For Cristal and Johnny, it is love at first sight. They go off together; therefore, Sadia has lost her hold over Johnny. Cristal decides to become the spokeswoman for the Black Stars, transmitting pirate messages by means of a neutron camera that lets her take over television frequencies.
Sadia, furious with jealousy, denounces Johnny and Cristal to Zéro Janvier on the evening that he is celebrating his engagement with Stella Spotlight at Naziland, a gigantic revolving discothèque above Monopolis. The Black Stars have chosen this very evening to set off a bomb in the Golden Tower.
Zéro Janvier’s men hunt the Black Stars. Cristal is hit and dies in Johnny’s arms. The shadow of Johnny Rockfort will darken the victory of Zéro Janvier, elected president of the Occident. Terrorism against totalitarianism, two living forces in opposition, two dangers that threaten the world.
Stella Spotlight, revolted by power, returns to her dream of immortality; Marie-Jeanne, having had enough of the underground world, heads off in search of sunlight.
- "Quand on arrive en ville"
- "Complainte de la serveuse automate"
- "Le blues du businessman"
- "Un garçon pas comme les autres"
- "La chanson de Ziggy"
- "Petite musique terrienne"
- "Ce soir on danse à Naziland"
- "Banlieue nord"
- "Les adieux d'un sex symbol"
- "Les uns contre les autres"
- "Quand on n'a plus rien à perdre"
- "Ego trip"
- "Le monde est stone"
- "S.O.S. d'un terrien en détresse"
- "Le rêve de Stella Spotlight"
- "Besoin d'amour"
- "The World Is Stone" (Le Monde est stone 1978)
- "Only the Very Best"
- "You have to learn to live alone"
- "Tonight we dance - extravagance!"
- "The Businessman's Blues"
Albums (all in French unless stated)
- 1978 Starmania - Original Version
- 1979 Starmania - The Show (double album)
- 1980 Starmania Made in Quebec (LP)
- 1988 Starmania 88
- 1992 Tycoon - (in English), also released as Starmania - Version anglaise
- 1994 Starmania - Mogador 94
- 1998 Starmania - 20th Anniversary (double CD)