Xiao Nan Yu in Manon. Photo by Christopher Wahl.

November 2014
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Scene I: The Courtyard of an Inn near Paris 

The courtyard at the inn is frequented by actresses, gentlemen and the demi-monde from Paris. Among them are Des Grieux (a young student), the wealthy Monsieur Guillot de Morfontaine and Lescaut, who is there to meet with his sister Manon on her way to enter a convent. A coach arrives bringing Manon and an Old Gentleman who is very attracted to her; Lescaut notices this and takes the Old Gentleman into the inn to come to an arrangement with him over Manon. Manon remains outside and meets Des Grieux. They instantly fall in love and decide to escape to Paris with the help of the money that she has stolen from the Old Gentleman. Lescaut and the Old Gentleman come out of the inn, having made a bargain, and to their dismay see that Manon has disappeared. Monsieur Guillot de Morfontaine tells Lescaut that he too is interested in Manon and because of Guillot de Morfontaine’s wealth Lescaut promises to find Manon and persuade her to accept him.

Scene 2: Des Grieux’s Lodgings in Paris 

Des Grieux is writing a letter to his father but Manon interrupts him by declaring her love for him. Des Grieux goes to post the letter, and in his absence Lescaut arrives with Monsieur Guillot de Morfontaine. Manon yields to Guillot de Morfontaine's advances, and when Des Grieux returns, Lescaut persuades him that there will be great wealth for all of them if he, Des Grieux, will sanction the liaison between Manon and Guillot de Morfontaine.



Scene 1: A Party at the Hotel Particulier of Madame 

Manon arrives at the party given by Monsieur Guillot de Morfontaine and is clearly torn between the wealth of her companion and her love for Des Grieux, who is also there with Lescaut. Des Grieux tries to persuade Manon to leave with him but she tells him that the time is not right and only will be when he takes more of Monsieur Guillot de Morfontaine's money at cards. Des Grieux is caught cheating and he and Manon rush away.

Scene 2: Des Grieux’s Lodgings 

Manon and Des Grieux once again declare their love for one another but Monsieur Guillot de Morfontaine arrives with the police and Manon is arrested as a prostitute. In the ensuing struggle Lescaut is killed.



Scene 1: The Port 

The Gaoler of the Penal Colony awaits the arrival of the convicts from France. Manon has been deported to America as a prostitute and Des Grieux has followed her there by pretending to be her husband. The Gaoler now turns his interest towards Manon.

Scene 2: The Gaoler’s Room 

The Gaoler has arrested Manon but offers her rewards in the hope that she will desert Des Grieux and live with him. Des Grieux breaks in and kills the Gaoler.

Scene 3: The Swamp 

Manon and Des Grieux have escaped into the swamp of Louisiana. All her former ambitions of wealth and splendour have been renounced for her love of Des Grieux. While eluding their pursuers Manon collapses and dies in Des Grieux's arms.


“MacMillan used all the modern dramatic techniques at his disposal to engage our emotions, then filled his scenes with choreography that is a wonder to watch.” — Toronto Star 

“It is difficult to imagine that MacMillan’s masterwork has ever been staged with more polish, care and enthusiasm than it was by the artists of The National Ballet of Canada. Manon is a story ballet in three acts that is nearly flawless as both theatre and dance” — Toronto Sun

“Raw, earthy Manon a superb ballet. With its artful juxtaposition of tender love duets and carnal trios, Manon is a work that provokes compassion for the human condition... The high inventiveness of the choreography makes for compelling spectacle all on its own” — The Globe and Mail

“Teasing and languorous, tender and ardent, these duets rank among MacMillan’s most passionately detailed accounts of love” — The Independent

Ballet Talks

The National Ballet invites you to attend the Manon Ballet Talk one hour before every show. 

Our hugely popular Ballet Talks take place in R. Fraser Elliot Hall in the Four Seasons Centre one hour before every performance. All ticket holders are welcome. Seats for everyone!

Enhance your experience and learn more about our productions from Lindsay Fischer, Artistic Director, YOU dance/Ballet Master.

“MacMillan used all the modern dramatic techniques at his disposal to engage our emotions then filled his scenes with choreography that is a wonder to watch” — Toronto Star