Eponine – You Turned Me Upside Down Again…

Eponine, Eponine…why do you always haunt my mind? Why do you make me search for your voice unceasingly? Damn the film production for coming along and stirring up the songs that slumbered in my mind. I am presently in relapse. Les Miserables is in my phone and in my ears everyday and at the top of the list are Eponine’s songs.

I am constantly searching for THE singer with Eponine’s voice. In my last post, I stated confidently that Lea Salonga is THE voice for Eponine and Samantha Barks is the screen Eponine. Oh gosh, I’m not so sure now. Browsing Youtube to listen to “On My Own” while I worked, I naturally clicked on the 10th Anniversary’s Lea Salonga’s version and then Samantha Bark’s 25th Anniversary. I was again reassured that, yes, Lea is the one. Until I saw a name that I’ve never seen before – Linzi Hateley.

The person who posted her recording even wrote that she is the best. Can this be? Surely not. Yet, curiosity and the desire to verify this claim made me click on the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yhWGsdETcA

As she started her song, I thought that she sounded like Frances Ruffelle. My attention was not really focused on her yet. Surely nobody can dethrone Lea from my No.1 position. Then…she continued to the next verse and the next… and my fingers ceased their work on the keyboard. Who is this girl? Her melodious voice was unlike Frances’. It was similar, but softer, kinder, gentler…..sadder. She did not have the changes in tonality that appears in Frances’ rendition (I like it but its a different Eponine). I was now totally transfixed by her voice.

Linzi Hateley singing "On My Own" in 1985. I think I found my favourite Eponine (again)!
Linzi Hateley singing “On My Own” in 1985. I think I found my favourite Eponine (again)!

As she poured out her heartache, she did not try over power the song unlike the new cast (the 25th Anniversary cast was guilty. Everyone was trying to show everyone else who had the most powerful voice). She was singing her song and she felt human…somehow…real. Linzi’s Eponine came across as softer, more vulnerable, gentler. Lea Salonga’s Eponine in 10th Anniversary was stronger with an edge. I think that Lea’s portrayal of Eponine was just right. Eponine grew up on the streets and she had to be hard. Lea’s stronger, clearer, controlled and harder voice was the match for Eponine. But…..Linzi’s Eponine appealed to me due to her sadder, softer side.

I thought that no one could come close to Lea Salonga’s Eponine, but I was wrong. Linzi Hateley’s voice showed me another Eponine. Has she relegated Lea to number 2 in my mind? This is an almost impossible question to answer. Even as I was typing this, I wavered between the two singers. Who is the right Eponine? I think Lea Salonga’s voice is just right. But, who do I like most? Argh….

Lea Salonga’s voice is beautiful, but Linzi Hateley’s rendition was so nice. She felt real. She wasn’t trying to impress. She was singing her heartache. Lea’s control vs Linzi’s girlish voice. Argh…I’ve been comparing both clips over and over again. If you put a gun to my head and force me to make a choice. I will pick…Linzi Hateley. I’m so sorry Lea! I hate myself for saying this because I really really like your performance! *weep*

Edit (23 Jan 2013): After posting the above, I spent last evening switching between France’s Ruffelle’s, Linzi Hateley’s and Lea Salonga’s renditions of “On My Own”. Gosh….I love them all! Each singer portrayed a slightly different side of Eponine and I love them all. Oh bless the Lord for giving these singers each a unique voice and a different understanding of the character! I am so thankful for all of them.

France Ruffelle’s Eponine and her voice seemed to emphasize the street urchin side. Her sharper, thinner voice and changes in tonality suggested Eponine as a lowly educated, dirt on the ground, uncouth girl. That was, in my opinion, a valid and correct interpretation of Eponine. I love the original Eponine.

Linzi Hateley gave us a sweeter, softer and more vulnerable Eponine. The nice girl portrayal was probably not so accurate, but I don’t care. The sadder, warmer version of her rendition was beautiful. I love Linzi’s version.

Lea Salonga’s Eponine was strong and the toughness could heard in her voice. The control, the power showed the strength of Eponine after years of living a tough life where she had to fend for herself. I have always loved Lea’s Eponine and that has not changed.

Samantha Barks. I love this Eponine but as the screen Eponine. Her voice was powerful, but seemed to be overpowering the song. I do not like her 25th Anniversary performance as much for the same reason. She will be the screen Eponine for me because she encompassed more than just singing “On My Own”. She gave us more of Eponine than we could see in the musical and the songs.

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