Camille Claudel (musical)
|Productions||2003 Goodspeed Musicals
2004 New York Workshop
Camille Claudel is a musical with a book and lyrics by Nan Knighton and music by Frank Wildhorn, their second musical. It is based on the life of the real-life French sculptor and graphic artist of the same name. The musical premiered at Goodspeed Musicals in 2003.
The show's opening scene is in 1913, when Camille was removed from society, then flashes back to 1881 and onward. The plot focuses on Claudel's career and her tempestuous relationship with Auguste Rodin, for whom she was a source of inspiration, a model, a confidante, and a lover. The show opens with Camille's love for her true passion - sculpting ("In the Stone"). The musical features Camille's sometimes troubling relationship with both her father (who had actually helped her) and brother, Paul Claudel. Despite not being a male, she insists she be allowed to be enrolled at Le Salon ("Not a Man"), yet she still manages to work & learn under Rodin. Act 1 concludes with Camille deciding she no longer needs Rodin, and attempts to live and create on her own, only to have Rodin tell her that she would be nothing without him ("Taking Back My Life"). Act II opens with Rodin reflecting on what he has done, and ailing with amiss for Camille ("A Trembling Man"). Camille now spends a lot of time with her father, and the two discuss older times and are at harmony ("Snow Falls"). When Paul realizes Camille's downward spiral into the unknown and her relations with Rodin, he attempts to save her and turn her to God, such as he had had his own conversion ("Field of Angels"). Instead, Camille cannot seem to understand why no one believes in her - including her family ("What's Never Been Done Before"). Rodin eventually rekindles his love with Camille, but the love is never returned ("Learning How to Love You"). After several more years, Camille's family decides that she is no longer stable (both emotionally & financially); they announce that her father has passed days earlier, and she is devastated that they did not tell her. Although she fights with Paul that she is not meant to be there, Paul and her mother send her to an insane asylum, where she comes to peace with the news of her father ("Snow Falls (Reprise)"). At the end of Act II, which switches to modern times, where Camille, now alone, reflects on the life she has lived ("Gold").
The world premiere was staged by Goodspeed Musicals in August through September 2003, in a "developmental run". Directed by Gabriel Barre and choreographed by Mark Dendy, the cast featured Linda Eder in the title role, Michael Nouri as Auguste Rodin, Matt Bogart as Paul Claudel and Milo O'Shea as Camille's father.
The musical was presented in a "chamber-style" form; the cast was minimum, and they attempted to do the most they could with small scale sets. Orchestrations (by Kim Scharnberg) were also on a smaller scale. Instead of bringing in statues, they used dancers to perform, and many of the scenes were strictly dancing for the statues (sometimes accompanied by music). "The Waltz" was one of these. There were also many book-scenes/moments, more than a common Wildhorn musical. The creators have denounced calling this a "tragedy," but rather a celebration of the life of Camille.
In 2004 it was presented in the form of a 45-minute reading at The National Alliance for Musical Theatre's 16th Annual Festival of New Musicals.
A studio demo recording was made in 2004, with no plans for a release. That demo also included songs recorded in 2001 with Linda Eder as Camille and Guy LeMonnier as Rodin.
The musical has been consistently worked upon, with productions that were hoped for Europe and regional theatres across the United States. However, in 2007, author Nan Knighton has said that while there are certain opportunities still available, there were no immediate plans to bring Camille anywhere.
The musical opened in Tokyo in December 2011, titled GOLD - Rodin and Camille.
The world premiere song list follows. Although several changes have been made, many of the songs remain intact.
No cast recording has ever been released. In 2004, a studio demo recording was made, starring Linda Eder and the majority of the world premiere cast. While it was originally thought that the recording would be released (nearly all of Mr. Wildhorn's musicals have released a concept album prior to a major production), this has not happened.
The musical features the Linda Eder single "Gold," which was seen on two of her solo albums: "Gold" and "Broadway, My Way." The song was also performed at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, UT. The song has also been "covered" by Brandi Burkhardt at several European concerts with Frank Wildhorn.
- Jones, Kenneth. "Wildhorn and Knighton's 'Camille Claudel', the Musical, Ends Sept. 7 at Goodspeed" playbill.com, September 7, 2003
- "16th Annual Festival of New Musicals, 2004" namt.org, accessed March 27, 2012
- "Recordings-Camille Claudel Demo Tracks" nanknighton.com, accessed March 27, 2012
- " 'Camille Claudel' Premiered in Japan" nanknighton.com, accessed March 27, 2012