A tale of ill-fated romance, Manon Lescaut has been a favorite of opera goers since its debut. It is the story of a lovely young woman, Manon, who is being taken by her brother to live in a convent. Des Grieux, a local student, is overwhelmed by Manon’s beauty and falls madly in love with her at first sight. Learning that Manon is headed to the convent, he convinces her to run away with him. After a few months, Manon grows bored of being poor living with Des Grieux and she goes to live with Geronte, a wealthy tax-collector whom her brother had chosen as her protector and hopeful suitor. Geronte dotes on her, and Manon has everything she could ever want, but Manon grows bored of having “things” and longs for the passion she felt with Des Grieux. Soon reunited with Des Grieux, Geronte catches the couple together in the throes of passion and has Manon arrested. Des Grieux and Manon's brother, Lescaut, unsuccessfully attempt to help her escape from jail, and as she is about to be deported to Louisiana, Des Grieux manages to board the ship to the United States as a member of the crew. Manon and Des Grieux eventually escape New Orleans, but Manon collapses as they seek refuge. As she is dying, Manon declares her love for Des Grieux one final time. The ill-fated love of Manon and Des Grieux is hauntingly beautiful and enthralling. The original novel of this passionate tale was a huge success and has been the subject of many operas, most notably Manon by Jules Massenet.
Manon Lescaut guide sections