Opéra comique in five acts, libretto by Henri Meilhac and Philippe Gille, based on the 1731 novel by Abbé Prévost
Composer: Massenet, Jules 1842 - 1912
English version by Edmund Tracey (made for English National Opera)
Manon (1884) is Massenet’s most popular and enduring opera, having maintained an important place in the repertory since its creation. SYNOPSIS: Set in 1721, during the reign of French King Louis XV, Manon, a beautiful young girl, is destined for a convent, but she elopes with the Chevalier des Grieux. The lovers are traced to Paris by Manon’s brother Lescaut and De Bretigny, who also loves Manon. Aware of a plot to abduct Des Grieux, and informed that he has little money, Manon is persuaded to accept De Bretigny as her lover, since he has the means to provide her with anything she wishes. Later, on hearing that Des Grieux is about to take the vows of a priest, Manon’s love for him resurfaces, and she hastens to the church of St. Sulpice, where he has become a preacher. Des Grieux yields to her will, and the pair return together to their old, indulgent ways. In a gambling salon, Des Grieux wins a considerable sum from Guillot, who – in revenge for being repeatedly spurned by Manon - accuses Des Grieux of cheating and denounces Manon as his accomplice. The pair are jailed, and while Des Grieux is soon released owing to his father’s influence, Manon is condemned to transportation. Des Grieux and Lescaut make desperate efforts to rescue her, but when they succeed it is too late. As Des Grieux clasps Manon in his arms she implores pardon for her past follies and errors, avows her real love for him, and dies.