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Cultural coup as Melbourne secures French national treasure

4 May 2014

The original 1862 manuscript of Les Misérables, a French national treasure, is leaving Europe for the first time to be exhibited exclusively at the State Library of Victoria, Minister for the Arts Heidi Victoria announced today.

The 945 page volume will leave the Bibliothèque nationale de France to be exhibited in the world-first exhibition, Victor Hugo: Les Misérables From Page to Stage which opens July 17.

Ms Victoria said the loan of the manuscript was unheard of outside of Europe.
 
‘The loan of this manuscript to Melbourne is an act of enormous trust and generosity on behalf of the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the French people. It is also significant that the State Library of Victoria is the first institution outside of Europe that France has entrusted this great work to.’

Sue Roberts, State Library of Victoria CEO and State Librarian said it is an ‘amazing coup that the manuscript is coming to Australia.’

‘This remarkable manuscript has never travelled outside of Europe–never to New York, never to London–but this July it will be here in Melbourne. The exhibition it is featured in will be one of the jewels in the crown of exhibitions in Australia and also globally this year. It brings together many unique materials that have not been seen in Australia and others which have never been exhibited anywhere before, to reveal the birth and explosive success of one of the world’s great stories.  For me and the millions of fans of Les Misérables around the world this is terrifically exciting.’
 
Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is considered to be one of the greatest novels of the 19th century. The story follows the plight of downtrodden and dispossessed characters in Paris and culminates in the dramatic events of the 1832 June Rebellion.

Since 1862 Les Misérables has been translated into 20 languages, sold countless copies, has been adapted for cinema at least 50 times and is the foundation for three major musical adaptations, including the Cameron Mackintosh production of Boublil and Schönberg’s Les Misérables which has been seen by over 65 million people and is one of the most popular musicals of all time.

The exhibition coincides with the Australian premiere of Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed new production of Boublil and Schönberg’s Les Misérables premiering at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, in June 2014.

The original Les Misérables manuscript will be travelling en route from Paris via Dubai in its own lie-flat Business Class seat on board Emirates Airline, a major exhibition partner.

Tickets $15 adult, $12 concession, $42 family - on sale now through Ticketek. For more information visit victorhugoexhibition.com.au