“Les Miserables, which features the song, “I Dreamed a Dream,” is a popular musical that opened in London in December, 1985. The producer was Cameron Mackintosh. Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel wrote the lyrics in French, while Herbert Kretzmer translated them into English. Claude-Michel Schonberg composed the music. The work is based on the book of the same title by 19th century French writer Victor Hugo.

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Many talented performers have sung, “I Dreamed a Dream.” The first was Patti LuPone who played Fantine in the London version of “Les Miserables.” Randy Graff opened the American run on Broadway. Susan Boyle soared to stardom with her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” on “Britain’s Got Talent.” And Anne Hathaway played the part of Fantine in the movie version. Even men such as Michael Ball and Michael Crawford — the original Phantom of the Opera — have taken a shot at the song with varying degrees of success.

At the end of the show, Fantine does find some redemption. Her spirit appears to a dying character who had, in life, been her friend. “Come with me, I’ll lead you to salvation,” she sings to him. “o love another person is to see the face of God.”

They fade toward the back of the stage, presumably to a world that is kinder.

“I Dreamed a Dream” is a song that resonates with practically everyone. There are few people who have not felt damaged by life or who have not known someone else who felt damaged by life. The words and the soft, intense music give voice to Fantine’s agony. When she returns at the end of the show and the audience sees that she has found peace at last, the emotion in the theater is all but overwhelming.

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Watch Ann Hathaway’s heartbreaking performance of the song in the video below.