Synopsis and Cast list
- Chevalier des Grieux
- Count des Grieux
- Guillot Morfontaine
- De Brétigny
- Two Guardsmen
In the courtyard of an inn at Amiens the noblemen de Brétigny and Guillot de Morfontaine are having dinner with three young women, Poussette, Javotte, and Rosette. People gather for the arrival of the coach to Paris, among them Lescaut. He is waiting for his young cousin Manon, who is on her way to enter a convent. The coach arrives and Manon expresses her exuberant joy about her first journey away from home. Enchanted by her, Guillot offers to take Manon to Paris, but she and his companions laugh at him. Lescaut reproaches Manon for her behavior that could shame their family. Manon gazes with envy at the elegant clothes of the other girls. The young Chevalier des Grieux arrives falls in love with Manon at first sight. When she tells him that it is her fondness for pleasure that has led her family to send her to a convent, he is determined to rescue her from such a fate. They escape together in Guillot's coach.
In their apartment in Paris, des Grieux writes to his father for permission to marry Manon. Lescaut and de Brétigny, disguised as soldiers, storm in. Lescaut, using the argument of family honor offended, berates des Grieux for having abducted Manon, when in fact he is trying to profit himself by setting her up with de Brétigny. To prove his honorable intentions, des Grieux produces his letter. Meanwhile, de Brétigny tells Manon that des Grieux's father is planning to kidnap his own son that evening. If she won't prevent it and instead live with him, de Brétigny, she can have wealth and luxury. After Lescaut and de Brétigny leave, des Grieux goes out to post his letter. Manon realizes she is unable to resist de Brétigny's offer and bids farewell to her life with des Grieux. He returns to find her weeping, but she will not tell him why. He talks of his dream of an idyllic future together in the country. When there's a knock on the door Manon begs him not to answer it, but he goes anyway. Looking out of the window, she sees him being carried off in his father's coach.
On a public holiday, a crowd has gathered at the Cours-la-Reine. Manon, now living with de Brétigny and the toast of Paris, praises the pleasures of her luxurious existence. Overhearing a conversation between de Brétigny and the Count des Grieux, she learns that the Count's son, following an unhappy love affair, is about to become a priest and will preach later that day at the seminary of St. Sulpice. Manon doesn't believe that des Grieux can have forgotten her and leaves the festivities to find him.
At St. Sulpice, des Grieux has attracted much admiration for his sermon. The Count tries to dissuade his son from entering the priesthood in favor of marriage. Des Grieux is adamant but realizes that he can't forget Manon. When she appears he angrily confronts her. She admits her guilt but begs him to forgive her and to remember their past love. Des Grieux yields to his feelings and renounces his vows.
Gamblers are gathered at the Hôtel de Transylvanie, among them Guillot and Lescaut. Manon and des Grieux arrive, and she reminds him that his fortune has nearly run out. He accepts Guillot's challenge to play. Manon, Poussette, Javotte, and Rosette consider what money might bring them. Des Grieux wins heavily and Guillot accuses him of cheating, threatening to inform the Count. The police arrive and des Grieux is arrested. The Count assures his son that he will be released soon. Manon, as his accomplice, is taken away to prison.
Le Havre, Des Grieux and Lescaut have come up with a plan to rescue Manon, who has been sentenced to deportation to Louisiana, but their paid accomplices have deserted them. Lescaut manages to bribe the guards and leaves Manon and des Grieux alone together. Ill and exhausted, she begs des Grieux to forgive her for the shame she has brought him. While she recalls their past, he only thinks of their future together. But the rescue comes too late. As Des Grieux assures her of his forgiveness and love, Manon dies in his arms.