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Cinq-Mars (P. Poirson & L. Gallet)




The action takes place in 1642 at the end of the reign of Louis XIII. The excessive power wielded by Cardinal Richelieu has split the Court. Nobles and courtiers loyal to the King plot to take the usurper down.

Act I

The castle of the Marquis de Cinq-Mars.

A chorus of nobles rejoices in Cinq-Mars’s recent distinction, an invitation to Court. One side claims that he has Cardinal Richelieu to thank for his elevation; others argue it is the King’s doing. Cinq-Mars himself shows no interest in matters of state. Once alone with his dearest friend, De Thou, he confesses his love for the Princess Marie de Gonzague. The two men agree that the affair is bound to end in grief. The guests re-enter. Among them are Father Joseph, Cardinal Richelieu’s emissary, and Princess Marie de Gonzague. Father Joseph announces that Cinq-Mars has been invited to Court, then that a marriage between Princess Marie and the King of Poland has been arranged. Cinq-Mars and Marie agree to meet later in the evening. The guests depart and Marie pours out her heart in the stillness of the night. Cinq-Mars re-enters and professes his love for her. Before he leaves, she, too, declares her love.

Act II

First Tableau

The King’s chambers.

After singing the praises of Marion Delorme, a courtesan of high birth, Fontrailles, Montrésor, Montmort, De Brienne, Monglat and other nobles discuss the growing influence of Cinq-Mars over the King. The courtiers are disturbed by the excessive power wielded by Cardinal Richelieu and debate amongst themselves whether Cinq-Mars will side with them. Marion reports that the Cardinal has threatened to send her into exile. Fontrailles expresses his astonishment and declares that Paris will be a dull place indeed without her brilliant salons. The courtesan announces that she will host a ball the very next evening and provide the conspirators with an opportunity to plot the overthrow of the Cardinal. Cinq-Mars enters. Marie de Gonzague has herself just arrived at Court and the two lovers are reunited. Father Joseph, however, then declares that in spite of the King’s approval of their match, the Cardinal has refused to agree to the union and intends to see that Marie is married to the King of Poland as planned.

Second Tableau

At the home of Marion Delorme.

The evening starts off with a reading from the latest novel by Madeleine de Scudéry, Clélie, followed by a lengthy masked ball. During the entertainment, the conspirators hatch their plot. Fontrailles assures them that Cinq-Mars will join them. Cinq-Mars arrives shortly afterwards as expected. Cinq-Mars declares that the King no longer has control of the whole country and that the Cardinal’s overthrow is a just cause. Civil war will soon break out, he says, and tells his fellow conspirators he has made a pact with the Spaniards, who have agreed to support them with their troops. De Thou interjects and warns against inviting a foreign army onto French soil; but Cinq-Mars’s mind is made up.


The next day. Outside a chapel.

The conspirators are about to meet. Unexpectedly, Marie enters and agrees with Cinq-Mars to exchange wedding vows there and then. Their conversation is overheard by Eustache, Father Joseph’s spy. He makes a full report to his employer. The priest delights in the power he now holds over Cinq-Mars. He tells Marie that her lover, the Marquis, is to be executed for betraying his country by negotiating independently with a foreign power. The Polish ambassador and the King will return from hunting soon, he says, and he warns Marie that she should give the ambassador the answer he is waiting for. If she does, Cinq-Mars’s life will be spared. The royal party enters and Marie reluctantly concedes.

Act IV

A prison.

Cinq-Mars awaits execution and laments that Marie has abandoned him. His end near, he summons up a vision of her to comfort himself. Marie enters and informs him of Father Joseph’s trickery. She still loves him and him alone, she says. She then outlines the plans for Cinq-Mars’s escape the following day. But when the Chancellor and Father Joseph arrive, they announce that the Marquis is to die before dawn and the plan comes to naught. As Cinq-Mars ascends to the scaffold, he shares a final prayer with De Thou.

    Persons - 2
  • GALLET, Louis (1835-1898)
  • POIRSON, Paul (1836-1895)
  • Work - 1
  • Cinq-Mars (Poirson & Gallet / Gounod)