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by Camillo Walzel

Genre: Operetta
Format of Original Source: Plot summary
Recommended Adaptation Length: Two Hours

Candidate for Adaptation? Promising


The first act opens at the inn of the Golden Lamb, near the gates of Paris, kept by Nanon, who has become so famous for her wit and beauty that the Marquis de Marsillac, director of the Royal Theatre, takes his nephew Hector there to see her. Thither also goes Ninon de l’Enclos, the famous beauty, to get a sight of Nanon, who, she suspects, has attracted the attentions of her own lover, the Marquis d’Aubigné. She is told that Nanon is to be married to Grignan, the drummer, and returns to the city with her suspicions allayed. Grignan, however, is in reality the Marquis, who, in the disguise of a drummer, intends to abduct Nanon. After a serenade to her she surprises him with a proposal of marriage; but when everything is ready for the ceremony, the Marquis secures his own arrest by his Colonel on account of a duel. While grieving over the arrest, Nanon receives a ring and some friendly assurances from Gaston, the page of Ninon de l’Enclos, and thereupon turns to her for help in rescuing the supposed Grignan from death, which is the penalty for duelling.


Without footnotes or a pre-show lecture, it’s a little difficult for a contemporary audience to understand the social rules governing the actions of the characters in this story.  Multiple lovers, duels, pardons…it’s fairly complex and feels disconnected with true motivations and human behavior.  But there’s a lot of STUFF happening, and you might find a way to make it interesting, or perhaps comic, rather than fancifully romantic.  Or, is there a modern day code of behavior in which the action could feel true?  (Say, in a gang, or a mafia family — multiple lovers, duels, pardons….)


A word of caution: This plot summary was written by 19th-century literary critic George Upton, who often mixes personal opinion with summation. You would be advised to consult the original source material, if the general plot appeals to you.


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