Des Grieux, chevalier

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1 (Massenet: Manon). Ten. Son of the Comte Des Grieux. Sees Manon and falls in love with her. He persuades her to abandon the idea of going to a convent and she agrees to go and live with him in Paris. She is coaxed away from their home by de Brétigny, who can give her a life of luxury. Des Grieux decides to enter holy orders. Manon comes to see him at the church where he is preaching. He tries to resist her, but in the end admits his love for her is as strong as ever and they run away together. They join friends in a gambling house, where Des Grieux is accused of cheating and he and Manon are arrested. Only the intervention of his father frees him, but Manon is to be deported. Des Grieux helps to rescue her, but her health has suffered and she dies in his arms. Aria: Ah, fuyez douce image (‘Ah, fly away, sweet image of love’). Created (1884) by Jean-Alexandre Talazac.

2 (Puccini: Manon Lescaut). Ten. Drinking with his friends at the local inn, he falls in love with the young Manon Lescaut, who is being escorted by her brother to a convent to complete her education. She returns his feeling and they run away and set up home together. When he runs out of money, Manon returns to her older admirer, Geronte. Manon's brother tells Des Grieux she still loves him and he determines to find her again. She agrees to return to him, but insists on stopping to collect her jewellery. The delay results in her arrest as a prostitute. She is to be deported and Des Grieux begs the ship's captain to let him come on board to be with her. They escape from the ship and wander in the desert where Manon becomes weak and ill. Des Grieux refuses to leave her, but goes to search for water. When he returns, Manon dies in his arms as he collapses next to her. Arias: Donna non vidi mai simile a questa! (‘Never have I seen such a woman!’); Ah! non v'avvicinate! (‘Ah! don't come any nearer!’). Created (1893) by Giuseppe Cremonini.

Subjects: Opera.

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