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Jules Massenet (b Montaud nr St Etienne, 12 May 1842; d Paris, 13 August 1912).


Jules Claretie.



First Performance: Monte Carlo (Salle Garnier), 7 February 1907.

First Performance in UK: London (Covent Garden), 22 May 1919.

First Performance in Scotland: Haddington (St Mary's Church), 8 September 2022 (concert).



This brief but taughtly drawn and tragic drama is full of good things.  Although composed in two acts these are barely more than a half hour each.


Plot Summary

The first act is set on Armand de Clerval's estate near Paris in the autumn of 1792.  He has fled abroad, while his old friend André Thorel, more sympathetic to the Revolution, has been able to protect the property from being looted.  Armand returns in secret to see his much missed estate and to declare his love for André's wife, who returns his feelings.

The second act takes place in Paris several months later, in the summer of 1793.  The early revolutionaries, the Girondins, who include André, have lost power and are being eliminated by the extremists during the Reign of Terror.  Armand meets Thérèse in his Paris house and they prepare to flee.  When the tumbrils pass outside with victims on their way to execution, Thérèse sees André on one of them and realises that her place is with her husband on the scaffold.  With a shout of 'Vive le Roi, à bas la guillotine!' she goes out to join him.  Armand is left alone.

The Cast

André Thorel
 friend of Armand
Armand de Clerval
 an aristocrat in hiding
City Official
Officer 1
Officer 2
 wife of André, in love with Armand

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