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Opera Libretti

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Act 1
Act 2
Act 3
Act 4
Act 5
Act 1
Act 2
Act 3
Act 4
Act 5
Annexe A
Act 1
Act 2
Act 3
Act 4
Act 5
Annexe A
Original Language with
English Translation
(in PDF format)


( The Promonade of the Cours la Reine, Paris, on the day of a popular fete Among the trees are the stalls of traders of all kinds. To the right is a pavilion dancing. When the Curtain rises, the Traders are following the passers-by, offering objects for sale.)

'This the fete of Cours la Reine; Here we laugh, here we sing, And cry "God save the King," Once, twice, and yet again.
(Poussette and Javotte come out of the pavilion, make signs to two youths in the crowd and hasten to meet them. Rosette follows soon after. Dance music is heard in the distance. )


What a charming promenade!
Oh, how happy here are we!

What good fun this escapade, )

Where no jealous eye can see.
POUSSETTE (to her companion). It is agreed.
JAVOTTE (to her companion). Ah! Do not so.
ROSETTE. One word alone might ruin all.
JAVOTTE. My heart will soon be yielding all.
ROSETTE. Guillot, I hope, will nothing know.
POUSSETTE AND JAVOTTE. What a charming promenade, etc. (Poussette and Javotte re-enter the pavilion. Rosette goes off.)
TRADERS. See here, slippers well embroidered, etc.
LESCAUT. My choice! Why should I choose?

Here this, and this!

Nothing I'll miss,
And you will nothing lose.
These I give the lovely girl
Whom I adore;
Nothing's too good for such a pearl,
Would there were more. TRADERS. Bravo, good sir, give all to her.
LESCAUT. Enough, enough. (Sentimentally,) (2
O Rosalinda ; 'There need to climb Parnassus' height,
Would I now sing thy praise aright ;
What arc the maidens of far Indy,

Or even Armid and Clorind ;

Near to thee thou fairest fair?

Simply naught I do declare.
Ladies all, this chance don't miss
I'll give a jewel for a kiss.
(Exit Lescaut. The crowd become mere animated. Javotte, Poussette, and Rosette come out of the pavilion. Guillot perceives them. Dance music is heard in the distance. Minuet commences.)

GUILLOT. Good-day, Pousette !
POUSETTE (running away). Gracious!
GUILLOT. Good-day, Javotte.
JAVOTTE (running away). Goodness !
GUILLOT. Good-day, Rosette.
ROSETTE (running away ). Goodness gracious !
GUILLOT. Confound them, leaving me like that, the minxes ! And I fascinated all three because I reckoned that one at least would be faithful. Women are a bad lot !

DE BRÉTINGY (who has heard the last words). Good philosophy, Guillot, but it isn't your own. ( Guillot looks at him angrily. ) Heavens, what a glance! Javotte, I warrant, has been leading you a pretty life.

GUILLOT (with a contemptuous gesture). Javotte! That for Javotte.

DE BRÉIGNY. And Poussette?

GUILLOT. That for Poussette.

DE BBÉTIGNY. Are you then free? (Ironically). Guillot, I beg of you, don't take Manon from me.

GUILLOT. Take her from you !

DE BRÉTGNY (with mock concern). Oh ! swear that you won't !

GUILLOT. There, that's enough of such jesting. By-the-way, De Brétigny, I hear that you re fused to engage the ballet for a performance at Manon's house, though she begged you with tears in her e es. Is that true?

DE BRÉIGNY. Yes; 'tis true enough. GUILLOT. Good! Excuse me for a moment ! I shall soon be back.

( Goes away rubbing his hands)'

Rigadon, rigadon,

Now I'm off to steal Manon !

( The crowd return. )


Great ladies of renown are these, )

They nothing do save what they please.

All men's hearts they gain,

And by beauty reign.

(Manon enters, accompanied by De Brétigny and several young gentlemen. )
DE BRÉIGNY. 0 divinest Manon!
GENTLEMEN. 0 divinest Manon !
MANON. How do I look today?

DE BRÉTGNY AND GENTLEMEN. Delightful ! Alluring ! Distracting !
MANON. Is that so? Many thanks. (coquettishly) I consent say, am I not gracious; that you all admire my delightful and charming appearance.

(archly and gaily)

An empress am I, in my way,

I conquer wheree'er I am seen.

None so great but his homage must pay,
Of love I'm the absolute queen.
All things around me are gay;
My fancy alone I obey.

And when life has no joys for me to sip,

I'll say farewell with laughter on my lip.

DE BEÉIGNY AND GENTLEMEN. Bravo; bravo! Manon!
MANON. List¡¦! this the voice of youth that called, Teaching that ye love for aye:
Then, are the pride of beauty called, Love me while you may.

Use me well the time of youth,

Do not care to count its flight; )

Take to heart my words of truth,
And gaily live to live aright.

The heart, we know, to love is willing;

Not less willing to forget;

Think, while its pulse is wildly thrilling,

Passion and sun may Set.
Use me well, etc.

(Manon goes towards the distant stalls, followed by a curious throng.)

CITIZENS AND TRADERS (dispersing). Great ladies of renown are these, etc.

A TRADER. Best tobacco here and snuff. ( The Count Des Grieux enters. )

DE BRÉIGNY. The Count des Grieux, if I am not mistaken?
COUNT. Monsieur de Brétigny !
DE BRÉIGNY. I am he. But I can hardly believe my eyes. You, in Paris I

COUNT. My son brings me here. DE BRÉIGNY. The Chevalier des Grieux?

COUNT. Call him Chevalier no longer.

MANON (who has approached under pretence of speak ing to a Trader). Des Grieux !
DE BRÉIGNY. What do you mean?

COUNT. He has entered the Seminary of St. Sul pice, for what purpose you will un derstand.

DE BEÉIGNY (smiling). What a change! I am astonished!
COUNT (also smiling). You caused it yourself by coming between him and his love.
DE BEÉIGNY (indicating Manon). Speak lower.
COUNT. Is that she?
DE BRÉIGNY. Yes, that is Manon. (Dance music is heard in the distance.)

COUNT. Ah ! now I know why you took so much interest in my son's affairs. (Looking at Manon, who draws nearer. ) Excuse me, she wishes to speak with you. (Bows, and moves away. ) (Aside. ) She is, indeed, very beautiful.


MANON (to De Brétigny". I want a bracelet exactly like this, and cannot find one anywhere.


DE BRÉTIGNY. Indeed! Then let me take up the search. (He bows to the Count and departs. )

COUNT (aside). She is charming, and no wonder she is loved!

MANON (to the Count, with embarrassment). Sir, your pardon, pray ! I was here quite close by ! not that I wished to overhear. Itwas not of my seeking.

COUNT. The fault is very small. Say no more. (Bowing, as about to go away. ) Madame!

MANON (drawing nearer). But was it not of love you were speaking?

COUNT. It was !

MANON (restraining her emotion). Ah ! so I thought! Nay, sir, I humbly crave forgiveness. I think the Chevalier des Grieux was one time in love.

COUNT. With whom?

MANON. With a friend of my own.

COUNT. Ah, indeed!

MANON. Yes, he loved. ( With deep emotion. ) And

I would gladly know if from the struggle he has

come victorious ; and if, forgetting her who had

caused all his pain, he has chased from his heart

a remembrance so dire.

COUNT. Is it here your list at length closes?

Would you know whither summer flies?

What becomes of young love when it dies?

Or where goes the perfume of roses?

MANON. 0 heaven! Give me courage for this, That I may ask all I would know.

COUNT. Ignorance, they say, is bliss, Since the past is gone, let it go.

MANON. Stay yet a moment

Has absence wrung his heart with anguish?

And does he ever breathe her name?

COUNT (looking steadily at her'.

In silence he with grief did languish. MANON ( greatly moved).

Does he the faithless never blame? COUNT. No!

MANON. Does he remember that the maiden To love was fain?

COUNT (after some hesitation).

His heart that once was heavy laden Is light again.

MANON. And now?

COUNT (lightly, with significance).

The lesson's learned your friend had set. A lesson every man should know,

If he'd be wise, is it not so?

One can forget.

MANON (sorrowfully). One can forget! ( The Count respectfully salutes and retires.) No! his life is bound for ever to mine. He cannot have for. gotten me. I must see him to-night, before it is too late. Lescaut, my chair?

LESCAUT Where must I take you, cousin!

MANON. To St. Sulpice.

LESCAUT. What is this strange fancy? Excuse my asking you again, where to?

MANON. To St. Sulpice.


(Exit Manon. The Scene chanqes. )

A Parlor in the Seminary of St. Sulpice.

COUNT (who has entered unobserved). Bravo, my Son! A great success! Our family should be proud of having produced a new Bossuet.

DES GRIEUX. Father, for mercy's sake, spare me!

COUNT. And is it well, Chevalier, that thou hast made this pretended alliance with Heaven?

DES GRIEUX. Yes; for the world to me has been bitterness and disgust.

COUNT. Brave words, Chevalier. By what road hast thou through life traveled; what of the world canst thou have seen to suppose this the fitting end?

Go, wed some maiden fair and tender,

Worthy of our ancient race;

Obedience to Heaven's will thus render,

And meet the world with fearless face.


Than this, no more high Heaven asked,

The path of duty, 'tis for thee;

The virtue which in homage basket

Is virtue of a mean degree.

DES GRIEUX. Nothing shall stop me from pronouncing my vows.

COUNT. Thou art resolved ?

DES GEIEUX. I am resolved.

COUNT. Be it so. I will go and announce to all that we have a saint in the family. Whether any one will believe me is doubtful.

DES GRIEUX. I pray you, sir, do not mock me !

COUNT. One word more. As it is not certain that thou wilt be an abbot to-morrow, I shall send thee at once a hundred thousand francs.


COUNT. The money is thine. It comes to thee from thy mother. And now, farewell my son!

DES GRIEUX. Father, farewell!

COUNT. Farewell! Remain to pray. (Exit. )

DES GREUX. I'm alone at last! The supreme moment now has come. From earthly ties I'm free, and only seek the rest which faith in heaven can give. Yes; I've resolved to put fine faith between the world and me.

Oh depart, image fair,

Leave me now at rest ;

Have regard to my prayer,

Ease my tortured breast..

To the dregs I have drained

Life's most bitter cup,

Nor to Heaven once complained,

Though heart's blood filled it up.

Dead to me now are love and all that men call

glory. I desire to chase forth from my memory

an evil name, a name which haunts me ! Ah!

wherefore ?

Great Heaven! With flame all searching, my soul, now purge from stain! Oh! Let thy pure and glorious light chase far away the gloom that weighs on my heart.

Ah! Depart, image fair! etc. (Exit.)

(Manon enters, the Porter of the Seminary attending her.) MANON (with effort). I would speak with the Chevalier des Grieux !

MANON (giving him money). Take this.

( The Porter bows and retires. )

These silent walls! the chilly air I breathe! how if these things have changed his heart and made it pitiless to sin ! How if he have learned to curse me!

VOICES in the Chapel. Magnificat anima inca Domi num, at exultavit spiritusmaus.

MANON. They are praying yonder. I also would pray.

Oh ! pardon me Thou Who in Heaven reignest, for if now I beg of Thee grace, if now entreat at Thy hands pity, if my voice from below can ascend to the skies, 'tis to ask of Thy goodness his heart whom I love. Oh! pardon me, great Heaven, pardon me !


VOICES in the Chapel. In Deo salutari meo ( Des Grieux enters at back. )


MANON (with anguish). 'This he !


(She turns round and is ready to fall. Des Grieux advanced. )


DES GRIEUX Thou ! Hera !

MANON. Yes, 'tis I? 'tis I!

DES GEIEUX. Away! What dost thou here? Away! Make haste away.


MANON (sorrowfu1ly suppliant).

Ah! deeply I have sinned against thee,

Yet do not forget all my love!

Shall I in those eyes that now fright me,

See pardon that comes from above.

DES GEIEUX. No; from my mind it has vanished, That vision insensate, impure.

Holy Heaven has the foul demon banished, Vain before me now spread thou the lure.

Ah! faithless Manon !

MANON (approaching him). But if I now repent?

DES GEIEUX. Ah! Faithless! Faithless!

MANON. Do not to forgiveness close thy heart!


DES GRIEUX (interrupting). I can no longer hear thee. No; at last from my memory thou art gone for ever gone also from my heart.


MANON (with tears). Alas! the bird that flies forth from its prison cage, full oft at night returns on desperate wing to beat out its life against the bars! Ah! pardon me! I die here at thy feet! ( With passionate energy. ) Give me back thy dear love, or despairing I perish !


DES GEIEUX. No! all my love is dead.

MANON. All thy love is dead! No, no ! Love can not die ! Hear ma, I pray. Recall thyself. ( Caressingly.) Is it not my hand that thine own now presses? Is it not my voice? Does not touch or sound come to thee caressing as one time it did? And these eyes that oft thou hast kissed with ardor, do they shine no more, even through my weeping! Am I not myself ? Do not turn away, but look on me. Am I not Manon?


DES GRIEUX (deeply moved). Oh, Heaven! With thy great power help me at this moment.


MANON. I love thee!

DES GRIEUX. Hold thy peace and do not speak of love, for here 'tis profanation.

MANON. I love thee !

DES GRIEUX. Hold thy peace and do not speak of love.

MANON. I love thee !

( The sound of a bell is heard.)

DES GREUX. (with anguish). The hour of prayer has coma!

MANON. No ; we will never part !

DES GRIEUX. Duty calls me away.

MANON. No ; we will never part ! Ah! is it not my hand ? etc.

DES GRIEUX (with energy). Manon ! No longer will I struggle against myself.
MANON (with a joyful cry). At last !
DES GRIEUX. And for thy sake I dare all Heaven's vengeance can do. My life is in thy heart ! My life is in thine eyes ! ( Passionately. ) Come, Manon, I love thee!
MANON. I love thee !
( The Curtain falls. )


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