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Lescaut, Manon


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1 (Massenet: Manon). Sop. On her way to a convent, she stops off in Amiens where her cousin Lescaut is to meet her and escort her on the rest of her journey. At the inn where her stage‐coach calls, she meets and falls in love with the Chevalier Des Grieux. At their home in Paris they are visited by the wealthy de Brétigny, who persuades Manon she will have a much more luxurious life if she departs with him. Living with him a life of wealth, Manon overhears the Comte Des Grieux telling de Brétigny that his son is about to take holy orders. Learning that he is preaching in Saint‐Sulpice, she makes her way there. Des Grieux is unable to resist her and they run away together. They join her cousin and his friends in a gambling parlour, where Morfontaine, after losing heavily to Des Grieux, accuses him and Manon of cheating. They are arrested. Des Grieux is freed but Manon is to be deported as a prostitute. Lescaut and Des Grieux help her escape, but she dies in Des Grieux's arms. Aria: Adieu, notre petite table (‘Farewell, our little table’). Created (1884) by Marie Heilbronn.

2 (Puccini: Manon Lescaut). Sop. She is being taken by her brother to complete her education in a convent. Calling at an inn en route, she meets the handsome Des Grieux and the wealthy Geronte, both of whom fall in love with her. She falls for Des Grieux and they run away and set up home together. Des Grieux's money runs out and Manon, hankering after a life of luxury, goes to live with Geronte, who lavishes gifts on her—but she remembers how happy she was with Des Grieux. Her brother visits her and she tells him how she wishes she was back with her true lover. Lescaut informs Des Grieux who comes for her. Keen as she is to leave with him, she is reluctant to leave behind all her jewels. The delay as she collects them is fatal—Geronte reports her to the police as a prostitute and she is arrested and put on a ship to be deported. Des Grieux manages to join her and he and Lescaut rescue her. They become lost in the desert, and Manon, exhausted, begs him to leave her and save himself. He tries to find water, but fails. As he returns to Manon, she is dying. Arias: Vedete? Io son fedele (‘See, I am faithful to my word’); In quelle trine morbide (‘In those soft laces’); Sola, perduta, abbandonata (‘Alone, lost, abandoned’); duet (with Des Grieux): Cedi, son tua! (‘Give in, I am yours!). Created (1893) by Cesira Ferrani (who three years later created Mimì in La bohème).

Subjects: Opera.


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