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Manon Lescaut(i)locked

  • Herbert Schneider

Extract

Opéra comique in three acts by Daniel-François-Esprit Auber to a libretto by Eugène Scribe after Abbé Antoine-François Prévost ’s novel L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut (1731); Paris, Opéra-Comique (Salle Favart), 23 February 1856.

The Marquis d’Hérigny (baritone) is seeking access to Manon (soprano) with the help of her cousin, Lescaut (bass). Manon wants to lead a life of luxury. Her lover, the Chevalier des Grieux (tenor), has acquired money to dine with her at the café of Madame Bacelin (soprano). Lescaut joins them and gambles away the money Des Grieux has entrusted to him. Threatened, because he cannot pay the bill, Des Grieux signs a contract to serve in Hérigny’s regiment. Manon performs as a café singer and earns a large sum of money, but she is too late to free Des Grieux from his pledge. In Act 2 Manon, now living in Hérigny’s villa, asks his permission to see Des Grieux, but he has already deserted. He enters and tries to flee with Manon, but Hérigny confronts him. In the ensuing duel, Hérigny is severely wounded, and Des Grieux is recaptured and sentenced to death. In Act 3 Manon is deported to America with a group of women convicts. Des Grieux, who has secretly followed her on the ship, bribes Renaud (bass), the overseer, to let him embrace Manon. The couple escape with the help of Manon’s friend Marguerite (soprano) and Marguerite’s fiancé Gervais (tenor). In the desert of Louisiana the exhausted Manon dies in the arms of Des Grieux....

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