"A genuine religious conversion," wrote psychologist William James in The Varieties of Religious Experience, "is the outcome of a crisis." In the case of French composer Francis Poulenc, the crisis was precipitated by the deaths of several friends. A 1935 pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Rocamadour in the south of France sealed the deal, but the most profound effect of that conversion would not be seen for another two decades, when Poulenc got a commission in 1953 to write a new opera from music publisher Ricordi.
With barely a word spoken, "Les Miserables" is closer to operetta than splashy musical. The Broadway musical and the movie are based on Victor Hugo's 1862 novel about poverty, death, injustice and orphans who would become so famous.
Stories set behind the scenes of historical royalty offer intriguing promise as they pull back the privacy curtain. Farewell, My Queen teases with such tantalizing scenes beginning July 14, 1789 and ending July 17. Three and a half momentous days in Versailles unfold with the French Revolution as the backdrop.