MANON
by Jules Massenet
 

Act 1
France, the end of the 19th century. The noblemen de Brétigny and Guillot de Morfontaine are having dinner with three young women—Poussette, Javotte, and Rosette—at an inn in Amiens, north of Paris. 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, which could shame their family. Manon gazes with envy at the elegant clothes of the other girls. The young Chevalier des Grieux arrives too late to catch the coach, which has already left for Paris. He falls in love with Manon at first sight, and 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. The returning Lescaut furiously accuses Guillot of having kidnapped his cousin, but then learns from the innkeeper that Manon went off with a young man. Guillot, mocked by everyone, swears revenge on the eloping couple.

Act 2
In their apartment in Paris, des Grieux writes to his father for permission to marry Manon. The maid announces visitors: Lescaut and another man, who, she warns Manon, is de Brétigny in disguise. Lescaut, using the argument of family honor offended, berates des Grieux for having abducted Manon. In fact he is trying to profit by setting her up with de Brétigny. Des Grieux, to prove his honorable intentions, produces his letter. Meanwhile, de Brétigny tells Manon that des Grieux's father is planning to kidnap his own son that evening; if she does nothing to prevent it and instead comes to live with de Brétigny, she can have wealth and luxury. After Lescaut and de Brétigny have left, 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. Des Grieux 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. Looking out the window, she sees him being abducted.

Act 3
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 could 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.

Act 4
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.

Act 5
Des Grieux and Lescaut have come up with a plan to rescue Manon, who has been sentenced to deportation to America, but their paid accomplices have deserted them. On the road to the port of Le Havre, 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 has come too late. As des Grieux assures her of his forgiveness and love, Manon dies in his arms.


  SEMELE
by George F. Handel

Act 1
The Temple of Juno, Queen of the Gods, wife of Jupiter. Semele, daughter of Cadmus, is engaged to marry Athamas, and the family gathers to celebrate the nuptials. Not everyone is happy, however; Semele's sister, Ino, secretly loves Athamas. And Semele herself is really in love with the god Jupiter, also known as Jove. She prays to him to intervene, whereupon the Mighty Thunderer breaks up the wedding with dreadful omens. Privately, Ino admits that she loves Athamas. Cadmus interrupts them to say that Semele was abducted and whisked away to the realm of the gods. There Semele discovers a world of "Endless pleasure, endless love."

Act 2
Juno's Dwelling. The goddess Iris tells Juno (who is also known as "Saturnia") about the gorgeous pleasure-palace Jupiter has created for Semele. Juno vows to destroy her new rival. In the aria "Hence, Iris, away," she and Iris set out on their quest: Juno plans to enlist the help of Somnus, god of sleep.

Semele's pleasure-palace. Meanwhile, Semele is troubled (Aria: "O sleep, why dost thou leave me?"). Jupiter has taken human form to be with her, but she is aware that she is a lesser order of being than her divine lover. Jupiter reassures her that he will protect her and always surround her with beauty (Aria: "Where'er you walk"). To distract her, he takes her to a beautiful garden and has her sister Ino brought up from earth to keep her company. Together the two sisters experience heavenly bliss.

Act 3
The cave of Somnus. Iris and Juno try to rouse the sleepy Somnus, who responds with the aria "Leave me, loathsome light." But when Juno promises him the nymph of his dreams, Pasithea, Somnus agrees to help Juno. Somnus will weaken Jupiter with uncontrollable lust and lock in sleep both Ino and the dragons that guard Semele's palace.

Semele's palace. Disguised as Ino, Juno gives Semele a magic mirror, which makes her fall in love with herself (Aria: "Myself I shall adore"). Juno-as-Ino tells Semele that if Jupiter makes love to her in his divine form, instead of his mortal disguise, Semele herself will become a goddess. She urges her "sister" not to waste this opportunity, and Semele takes the bait.

When Jupiter returns, Semele makes him swear he'll give her anything she desires. Then she demands that he appear to her in his divine form. Jupiter is horrified by the request: "Should I grant your request, I shall harm you." But there is no dissuading her (Aria: "No, no, I'll take no less / Than all in full excess!"). Reluctantly, Jupiter appears in his true form, and Semele is consumed by flames.

Back on earth, everyone is terrified by Semele's fate. Ino unites with Athamas, and Apollo announces that from Semele's ashes, Bacchus, the god of wine, will be born.


Così fan tutte
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
 

Act 1

In the 18th century, at a cafe in Naples, two soldiers, Ferrando and Guglielmo, debate with an old philosopher, Don Alfonso. The two young soldiers believe their lovers never to be unfaithful, but the old philosopher declares that all women have a cheating heart. They make a bet on which is right. The old philosopher, Don Alfonso, develops a game plan. Ferrando's lover is Dorabella, and Guglielmo's lover is Dorabella's sister, Fiordiligi. Alfonso tells the sisters that their lovers suddenly depart for the battlefront. The sisters feel sad not to see their lovers. On the other hand, Alfonso orders the two men to wear different clothes and disguise themselves as foreign people. Alfonso introduces the disguised men to the sisters. But the sisters show no interest in the two men, yet.

Act 2
Alfonso pays the sisters' maid, Despina. Despina recommends them to cheat on their lovers. The sisters begin to talk about their new men. The sisters select different men to their original boyfriend, that is to say, Fiordiligi selects Ferrando, and Dorabella selects Guglielmo. Then, disguised Guglielmo succeeds in seducing Dorabella. Disguised Ferrando succeeds in seducing Fiordiligi, too. Both Ferrando and Guglielmo gets angry, but Alfonso says to them, "Women are like that." After that, the sisters sign registration of a marriage with the disguised men. Then, the two men who have removed their disguises suddenly appear, and they get angry with the sisters. The sisters beg their lovers' forgiveness, on the other hand, the two men promise not to deceive, and to believe in their lovers. Alfonso advises the two couples to laugh it all off.

Joseph Levesque as Don Jose and
Signa Love as Carmen
Margie Bernal (Salud) and Katherin Lewis (Grandmother) Xin Emily Ding (Elvira)

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