Major Operas | Les Huguenots by Giacomo Meyerbeer | Early Romantic
Nevers, a Catholic, has invited the Huguenot Raoul to a feast, as the king desires peace between the two factions. The guests describe their experiences of love. Raoul has fallen for a lady whom he saved from some students. Marcel, Raoul’s servant, arrives and sings a Huguenot song.
Nevers’ page announces the arrival of a woman to see Nevers. The guests watch the encounter; Raoul is incensed to see it is the woman he loves. She is Valentine, Nevers’ fiancée, and has come to break off the engagement as she now loves another. Urbain, a page, enters with a note for Raoul inviting him to a rendezvous, and to come blindfolded. The guests notice the seal of Marguérite de Valois.
Marguérite is arranging for Raoul to marry Valentine, uniting the Catholics and Huguenots. Raoul is led in and his blindfold removed; he pledges loyalty to Marguérite. He agrees to the match, but when Valentine is brought in he recognizes her as his ‘faithless’ lover and rejects her. Her father, Saint-Bris, is furious; the Catholics swear vengeance.
The wedding of Nevers and Valentine begins. Marcel delivers Raoul’s challenge of a duel to Saint-Bris, who plots an ambush. Valentine overhears and warns Marcel. Raoul rallies his companions but Marguérite intervenes and prevents the fight. Raoul learns the truth about Nevers and Valentine, but they are now married.
As Valentine laments losing Raoul, he appears. He hides as Saint-Bris enters and overhears the Catholics’ plans for a slaughter of Huguenots that evening. He leaves to warn the others.
As the Huguenots celebrate Marguérite’s marriage to Henri de Navarre, a badly injured Raoul enters with news of the conflict. Raoul, Marcel and Valentine find each other among the fighting. Nevers is dead and they are free to marry. Saint-Bris and Catholics shoot at the Huguenots, realizing too late that they have killed Valentine.
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