Ep. 23 Manon by Massenet broadcast 1.7.18
On today's episode we listen to Manon by Jules Massenet, an opera in five acts set to a French Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Philippe Gille. The story is based on the 1731 novel "L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut" by the Abbé Prévost.
The story begins in 1721 with a party of friends including Guillot Morfontain making merry at an Inn. Manon, escorted by her cousin Lescaut, of the Guards, arrives on her way to a convent. She is of the peasantry, but vain as well as beautiful. Guillot leaves his friends, to pay attention to the young girl. He meets with no success, and is finally compelled to retreat.
The Chevalier Des Grieux, however, who appears upon the scene during the temporary absence of the cousin Lescaut, is more successful. Although about to take holy orders and become a priest, Des Grieux is charmed and infatuated by Manon's beauty and seeming simplicity; while she, in her vanity, seeks for a higher social position, and is also fascinated by the young Chevalier's manliness. The result is an almost immediate elopement of the pair.
Act 2 begins in the couples cozy apartment in Paris. Before Des Grieux can secure his father's consent to their marriage the young man is placed in jeopardy by Lescaut and De Brétigny. The two men are soon pacified; shortly afterwards Des Grieux is seized by six men in the Count's (his father's) employ, and all taken away from Manon.
In Act 3 we find Manon under protection of De Brétigny. But she learns that Des Grieux (whom she really loves) is now the priest at St. Sulpice; and she flies from Brétigny to win back her lover. In the second scene there is an interesting and dramatic situation, wherein Manon succeeds in inducing Des Grieux to renounce the priesthood and renew his love with Manon.
In the 4th act is seen the interior of the gambling-house in Paris. Des Grieux is unjustly accused of cheating, and he and Manon are about to be arrested where Count Des Grieux appears and release the Chevalier; but Manon, through the effort of Guillot who seeks revenge, is condemned to jail and eventual deportation to the French colony Louisana.
In the last scene, as Manon is being marched away to the ship that will take her to Louisiana, Manon again meets her lover Des Grieux, and dies in his arms.