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date: 15 December 2019

Aucassin et Nicolette [Aucassin et Nicolette, ou Les moeurs du bon vieux temps (‘Aucassin and Nicolette, or The Customs of the Good Old Days’)](ii)locked

  • Michael Fend

Extract

[Aucassin et Nicolette, ou Les moeurs du bon vieux temps (‘Aucassin and Nicolette, or The Customs of the Good Old Days’)]

Comédie mise en musique in four acts by André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry to a libretto by Michel-Jean Sedaine after Jean-Baptiste de la Curne de Sainte-Palaye’s fable Les amours du bon vieux tems; Versailles, 30 December 1779.

The troops of Bongars, Comte de Valence (bass), are besieging the chateau of the elderly Garins, Comte de Beaucaire (baritone/bass). Aucassin (tenor), Garins’ son, is unwilling to defend his family since his father has forbidden him to marry the orphan Nicolette (soprano), but he finally goes off to fight the intruders on condition that he will be allowed to bid farewell to her after a victorious battle. When the Vicomte de Beaucaire (tenor) and Garins learn from Nicolette that she cannot reject Aucassin, she is imprisoned in the castle’s tower. Aucassin returns victorious from the battle, but Garins refuses to fulfil the promise he made to him. In revenge, Aucassin sets his prisoners free and an enraged Garins orders his son to be thrown into the dungeon. Nicolette escapes from the prison tower while two sympathetic, humorous officers, Marcou (tenor) and Bredau (bass), look on. In vain she implores Aucassin to submit to his father’s will before she flees. Aucassin, too, is freed by his father, who assumes that Nicolette will die in the surrounding woods. A shepherd (bass) helps Aucassin to find her. Meanwhile Bongars returns to the chateau declaring that Nicolette is his daughter: she had been abducted by the Beaucaire family, who were unaware of her identity. Aucassin and Nicolette meet in the final act, but she again fails to persuade him to give her up. The couple are ready to commit suicide as Garins, Bongars and their troops approach. After Nicolette’s identity is revealed her marriage to Aucassin is announced....

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