Madame de Merteuil, angry that her former lover, Gercourt, is marrying the young Cecile (who is secretly in love with Danceny) persuades Valmont to seduce Cecile and "ruin" her as a bride. Hesitant at first, because of his attempted conquest of, and involvement with, the innocent Madame de Tourvel, Valmont agrees to Merteuil's request after she promises him sexual favors. Danceny is asked to depart after Cecile's mother is warned, by Merteuil, that the couple has been exchanging love letters. Merteuil writes to Valmont, detailing her many love affairs with men (including, she neglects to mention, the young Danceny). Valmont seduces Cecile, but finds he is genuinely falling in love with Tourvel. Valmont and Tourvel finally yield to their love. Act II begins with Merteuil's demands that Valmont break off his relationship with Tourvel. He does so cruelly and she is emotionally devastated, eventually retiring to a convent. Valmont finds Merteuil in bed with Danceny and realizes that she has no intention of keeping her part of the bargain. Valmont and Merteuil declare war on one another. Merteuil reveals to Danceny that Cecile has miscarried Valmont's child and Danceny challenges him to a duel. As Tourvel falls ill at the convent, Danceny mortally wounds Valmont. In his last moments, Valmont speaks of revenge: He asks Danceny to publish his letters, which incriminate Merteuil, and he declares his love for Tourvel. As Tourvel dies, she also bequeathes a box of letters to Madame de Volanges. As the letters circulate, society comments on the moral lessons to be learned from their contents. Merteuil is disgraced by the letters, yet, defiantly, she survives.
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|GRANT NAME||YEAR||The Next Stage||1997||Opera for a New America ||1994||Opera for a New America ||1993||Opera for a New America ||1992||
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Approximate Runtime (hh:mm)
Colorful orchestration; harmonically-based, chromatic, post-romantic language.
Vocal & Musical Forces
Three flutes (piccolo), 3 oboes (English horn), 3 clarinets (bass clarinet), 3 bassoons (contrabassoon), 4 horns, 3 trumpets (flugelhorn), 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, 3 percussion, harp, synthesizer, strings; SATB chorus; 12 chorus members offstage; 3 sopranos, 2 mezzos, tenor, baritone; others.
Original cast: Marquise de Merteuil, Frederica von Stade; Vicomte de Valmont, Thomas Hampson; Madame de Tourvel, Renée Fleming; Madame de Volanges, Judith Forst; Madame de Rosemonde, Johanna Meier; Cécile de Volanges, Mary Mills; Chevalier de Danceny, David Hobson; others.