Berthe could not be happier. She is in love with a good man, and his mother, Fidès, has agreed to their marriage. All that remains is for her to get permission from Count Oberthal and the wedding can go ahead. But when Berthe and Fidès approach him, Count Oberthal sees how beautiful Berthe is, and wants to keep her for himself. He refuses her request, and arrests both Berthe and Fidès.
Meanwhile, Berthe’s fiance, Jean, is approached by a group of Anabaptists, who claim that he is their destined leader. Jean has no desire to lead a religious life, and would rather marry his beloved Berthe. Berthe runs in, having escaped from the prison, and is pursued by the Count. Jean tries to protect her, but the Count threatens to execute Jean’s mother if he does not return Berthe to him. Heartbroken, Jean chooses to save his mother. After seeing Berthe dragged away by the Count, Jean joins the Anabaptists, with the intention of using their strength and numbers to gain vengeance against the Count.
Jean leads the Anabaptists in a series of brutal campaigns, and before long is declared the prophet. They decide to seize Munster, and Jean forgets about his poor mother and beloved Berthe, as he sets his sights on becoming Emperor.
Fidès has no idea that Jean is the Anabaptist’s prophet, and believes the prophet to have ordered the murder of her son. By chance, she meets Berthe in Munster, and tells her what has happened. Berthe swears to kill this false prophet herself, and leads Fidès into the cathedral, while the prophet’s coronation is underway. Fidès’s presence is a threat to the prophet’s authority, and she is imprisoned.
Only reuniting with his loving mother and his beautiful fiance can bring Jean to realise what he has done. He is horrified by the pain and suffering the Anabaptists have caused under his rule, and resolves to end it all today. While the Anabaptists drink and dance at the coronation festivities, Jean sets explosive powders in the secret tunnels throughout the cathedral, and orders the soldiers to lock the doors. The powder is lit, and flames engulf the whole cathedral, as Jean embraces his mother one last time.
Arriving on the scene while the bel canto movement was at its height, Meyerbeer’s Le Prophète combines the virtuosic vocal styles of Bellini or Donizetti with the large forces of French grand opera, and demonstrates this shift in styles on a huge scale.
Le Prophète guide sections