Opéra-comique en 5 actes et 6 tableaux
Composer: Jules Massenet (1842–1912)
Librettist: Henri Meilhac & Philippe Gille, after the Abbé Prévost’s ‘L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut’ (1731)
First performance : Opera-Comique, Paris, 19 January 1884
SETTING : Amiens, Paris & on the road to Le Havre, 1721
PLOT : Manon, whom her cousin Lescaut is taking to the convent, meets at a post relay in Amiens the young Chevalier des Grieux, who takes her instead to Paris. Act II: The coquette, told by M. de Brétigny that des Grieux will be kidnapped that evening on his father’s orders, agrees to go with de Brétigny, who will make her the queen of Paris. Act III: Manon has had enough, and longs for des Grieux, who will shortly enter the church. At the Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice, Manon wins over the lover she abandoned. Act IV is set at the hôtel de Transylvanie, where des Grieux, introduced by Lescaut, plays and wins. Guillot calls the police; the intervention of the comte des Grieux rescues his son from shame, but Manon will be deported to Louisiana. In Act IV, on the road to Le Havre, Manon dies in the arms of des Grieux.
‘Manon’ is Massenet’s most popular opera, and was, for many years, as celebrated as Gounod’s ‘Faust’ [
No. 12 – Ah! fuyez, douce image!: ‘Ah ! fuyez, douce image’
The Chevalier Des Grieux is about to enter the priesthood, but acknowledges that he has chosen religion to forget Manon. He prays to God to drive from his heart the memory that he cannot forget.
Manon Lescaut (soprano): Angela Gheorghiu
Conductor: Antonio Pappano
Orchestra Symphonique & Choeurs de la Monnaie