Giacomo Meyerbeer

Les Huguenots

Les Huguenots - Meyerbeer (English subtitles)

It was The Huguenots that in 1836 made Meyerbeer the king of the opera not only in Paris but practically everywhere else. Not that he lacked detractors even in his own time. Richard Wagner described the typical Meyerbeer libretto as "a monstrous motley, historico-romantic, sacro-frivolous, mysterious-brazen, sentimental-humbugging dramatic hodge-podgew" and,after Meyerbeer stopped being an easy touch, continually attacked and denigrated him. (Yet, in a rare access of honesty, he once admitted that the fourth act of The Huguenots had deeply moved him.) It did not occur to Wagner that his descriptions of these librettos were not inapplicable, at least in part; to his own. Nor were Wagner's librettos, however many detractors they too had in their own day, ever taken seriously enough to frighten those interesting weather vanes of political opinion, the official censors. The Huguenots can at least claim the distinction of having had its religious conflict disguised in a number of sensitively Catholic cities. In Vienna and St. Petersburg it was performed as The Guelphs and the Ghibellines, in Munich and Florence as The Anglicans and the Puritans, and in the last city also as Renato di Croenwald, whoever that was.
 

Today it is difficult to take the pseudo-history of Meyerbeer and Scribe seriously, and, more important, the musical effects seem to have lost much of their impacts. The opera is still regularly performed in France, less regularly in Germany, and hardly ever in the United States, England, or Italy. Individual numbers are sometimes sung in concert, and recordings of arias by singers of the Golden Age are collectors’ items. Some of the music is therefore still current; but it appears unlikely that there will be a gala revival in an important American opera house before a genuine all-star cast can be assembled equal to the ones in the 1890, at the Metropolitan when the price of seats was raised two dollars for the occasion. For such a "night of seven stars," as it was publicized, the program listed Nordica, Melba, the two De Reszkes, Scalchi, Plancon, ana Maurel. Even as late as 1905 one might have heard Caruso, Nordica, Sembrich,Scotti, Walker, Journey and Plancon. But those days are gone forever, and perhaps Les Huguenots with them.

Set design by Auguste Rubé and Philippe Chaperon for Act 1 of the 1875
production at the Palais Garnier

 

Huguenots are an ethnoreligious group of French Protestants who follow the Reformed tradition.

The term was used frequently to describe members of the Reformed Church of France from the early 1500s until around 1800.
 

The term has its origin in France. Huguenots were French Protestants mainly from northern France, who were inspired by the writings of theologians in the early 1500s, and who endorsed the Reformed tradition of Protestantism, contrary to the largely German Lutheran population of Alsace, Moselle, and Montbéliard. Hans Hillerbrand in his Encyclopedia of Protestantism claims the Huguenot community reached as much as 10% of the French population on the eve of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, declining to 7–8% by around 1600, and further after heavy persecution began once again with the Edict of Fontainebleau by Louis XIV of France.
 

Huguenot numbers peaked near an estimated two million by 1562, concentrated mainly in the southern and western parts of France. As Huguenots gained influence and more openly displayed their faith, Catholic hostility grew, in spite of political concessions and edicts of toleration from the French crown. A series of religious conflicts followed, known as the French Wars of Religion, fought intermittently from 1562 to 1598. The Huguenots were led by Jeanne d'Albret, her son, the future Henry IV, and the princes of Condé. The wars ended with the Edict of Nantes, which granted the Huguenots substantial religious, political, and military autonomy.
 

Huguenot rebellions in the 1620s prompted the abolishment of their political and military privileges. They retained religious provisions of the Edict of Nantes until the rule of Louis XIV. Louis XIV gradually increased persecution of them until he issued the Edict of Fontainebleau (1685), ending any legal recognition of Protestantism in France and forcing the Huguenots to convert or flee in a wave of violent dragonnades. Louis XIV claimed the French Huguenot population of 800,000 to 900,000 individuals was reduced to 1,000 or 1,500 individuals; a huge overestimate, although dragonnades were certainly the most devastating event for the minority. Nevertheless, a tiny minority of Huguenots remained and faced continued persecution under Louis XV. By the death of Louis XV in 1774, French Calvinism was almost completely wiped out. Persecution of Protestants officially ended with the Edict of Versailles (Edict of Tolerance), signed by Louis XVI in 1787. Two years later, with the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789, Protestants gained equal rights as citizens.
 

Vision of the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre
Catherine de Medici 
(1519 - 1589) french queen and regent,she was a powerful influence in 16th century France, particularly during the Wars of Religion. 

 

The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre (French: Massacre de la Saint-Barthélemy) in 1572 consisted of assassinations and a wave of Catholic mob violence, directed against the Huguenots (French Calvinist Protestants) during the French Wars of Religion. Traditionally believed to have been instigated by Queen Catherine de' Medici, the mother of King Charles IX, the massacre took place a few days after the wedding on 18 August of the king's sister Margaret to the Protestant Henry III of Navarre (the future Henry IV of France). Many of the most wealthy and prominent Huguenots had gathered in Catholic Paris to attend the wedding.
 

The massacre began in the night of 23/24 August 1572 (the eve of the feast of Bartholomew the Apostle), two days after the attempted assassination of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, the military and political leader of the Huguenots. The king ordered the killing of a group of Huguenot leaders, including Coligny and the slaughter spread throughout Paris. Lasting several weeks, the massacre spread to other urban centres and the countryside. Modern estimates for the number of dead across France vary widely, from 10,000 to 70,000 people.
 

The massacre was a watershed in the French Wars of Religion. The Huguenot political movement was crippled by the loss of many of its prominent aristocratic leaders and the many re-conversions by the rank and file; the survivors became more extreme. Though by no means unique, it "was the worst of the century's religious massacres". Throughout Europe, it "printed on Protestant minds the indelible conviction that Catholicism was a bloody and treacherous religion".

Press illustration of Act 2 of the 1836 premiere

Roles

LES HUGUENOTS
 

Opera in five acts by Giacomo Meyerbeer with libretto in French by Augustin Eugene Scribe, revised by Emile Deschamps and the composer

 

Marguerite de Valois, sister of Charles IX of France
Urbain, her page

Count de Saint-Bris, Catholic noblemen

Count de Nevers, Catholic noblemen
Count Maurevert, Catholic noblemen
Cosse, Catholic gentlemen

Meru, Catholic gentlemen

Thore, Catholic gentlemen

Tavannes,  Catholic gentlemen

Valentine, daughter of St Bris
Raoul de Nangis, a Huguenot nobleman
Marcel, servant to Raoul
Bois-rose, a Huguenot soldier


 

Time: August 1572

Places: Touraine and Paris

First performance at Paris, February 29, 1836

Characters

Marguerite de Valois:

 

Soprano. Sister of the French king, betrothed to the Huguenot Henri IV de Navarre. In support of her brother's wish to bring to an end the conflict between the Catholics and the Huguenots, she encourages the love between the Catholic Valentine and the Huguenot Raoul, allowing her page to deliver messages for them. Aria: A ce mot s'anime et renaît la nature (‘At this word Nature revives and renews itself’); duet (with Raoul): Beauté divine, enchantresse (‘Beauty divine, enchantress’). Created (1836) by Julie Dorus‐Gras.

Margaret of Valois (French: Marguerite, 14 May 1553 – 27 March 1615), commonly Margot, was a French princess of the Valois dynasty who became queen consort of Navarre and later also of France.

By her marriage to Henry III of Navarre (later Henry IV of France), she was queen of Navarre and then France at her husband's 1589 accession to the latter throne. Their marriage was annulled in 1599 by decision of the Pope. She was the daughter of King Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici and the sister of kings Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III.

Her marriage, which was to celebrate the reconciliation of Catholics and Huguenots, was tarnished by St Bartholomew's Day massacre and the resumption of the religious troubles which ensued. In the conflict between Henry III and the Malcontents, she took the side of Francis, Duke of Anjou, her younger brother, and this caused a deep aversion of the king against her.

As Queen of Navarre, she also played a pacifying role in the stormy relations between her husband and the French monarchy. Ballotted between the two courts, she endeavored to lead a happy conjugal life, but the sterility of her couple and the political tensions inherent in the French Wars of Religion caused the end of her marriage. Mistreated by a shadowy brother, rejected by an opportunistic husband, she chose the path of the opposition in 1585. She took the side of the Catholic League and was forced to live in Auvergne in an exile which lasted twenty years.

Giacomo Meyerbeer – LES HUGUENOTS – Duo: ‘Beauté divine enchanteresse’ 

Urbain:

 

Mezzo-soprano. Travesti role. Page to the Princess Marguerite de Valois (sister of the king). Carries a message from Valentine to Raoul. Aria: Une dame noble et sage (‘A wise and noble lady’). Created (1836) by Mlle Flécheur.

Comte de Saint-Bris:

 

Baritone. Catholic nobleman, governor of Louvre, father of Valentine. He plots the capture of Raoul as part of his plan to massacre the Huguenots. In the course of the fighting, he orders his men to shoot, not knowing his daughter is in love with Raoul and has joined him. They are both killed by his soldiers’ bullets. Aria: Pour cette cause sainte, obéisses sans crainte (‘For this sacred cause, obey without fear’). Created (1836) by Mons. Serda.

Meyerbeer - Los hugonotes - Acto I
Orquesta de la Ópera Australiana. Richard Bonynge, director.
Anson Austin (Raoul), Suzanne Johnston (Urbain), Clifford Grant (Marcel), John Pringle (Nevers)

Comte de Nevers:

 

Baritone. Catholic nobleman, engaged to Valentine de Saint‐Bris. Anxious to help the king in his wish to create peace between Catholics and Huguenots, he invites the Huguenot Raoul to his party, not knowing Raoul is in love with Valentine. Insists on marrying Valentine. Is killed during Saint‐Bris's attempts to massacre the Huguenots. Created (1836) by Prosper Dérivis.

Meyerbeer - Los hugonotes - Acto II
Joan Sutherland (Marguerite de Valois), Anson Austin (Raoul), Amanda Thane (Valentine), Suzanne Johnston (Urbain), Clifford Grant (Marcel), John Wegner (Saint-Bris), John Pringle (Nevers)

Valentine de Saint-Bris:

 

Soprano. Daughter of the Comte de Saint‐Bris, leader of the Catholics. She is engaged to the Catholic Comte de Nevers, but falls in love with the Huguenot Raoul de Nangis. She is killed, together with Raoul, by her father's soldiers, not having been recognized as his daughter. Aria: Parmi les pleurs (‘Amid my tears’); duet (with Raoul): Ô ciel, où courez‐vous? (‘O heavens, where are you rushing off to?’). Created (1836) by (Marie) Cornélie Falcon.

Meyerbeer - Los hugonotes - Acto III
Joan Sutherland (Marguerite de Valois), Anson Austin (Raoul), Amanda Thane (Valentine), Clifford Grant (Marcel), John Wegner (Saint-Bris), John Pringle (Nevers), Joan Sutherland (Marguerite de Valois)

Raoul de Nangis:

 

Tenor. A Huguenot nobleman. He has fallen in love with a woman he has seen but whose identity he does not know. She is the Catholic Valentine de Saint‐Bris, betrothed to the Comte de Nevers. She returns Raoul's love but her fiancé will not release her. During her father's attempted massacre of the Huguenots, she joins Raoul and they are both killed by her father's soldiers. Duet (with Valentine): O ciel, où courez‐vous? (‘O heavens, where are you rushing off to?’). Created (1836) by Adolphe Nourrit.

Meyerbeer - Los hugonotes - Acto IV 
Anson Austin (Raoul), Amanda Thane (Valentine), John Pringle (Nevers), John Wegner (Saint-Bris).

Marcel:

 

Bass. A Huguenot soldier, servant of Raoul de Nangis. Created (1836) by Nicolas Levasseur.

Meyerbeer - Los hugonotes - Acto V 
Anson Austin (Raoul), Amanda Thane (Valentine), Clifford Grant (Marcel), John Wegner (Saint-Bris).

Painting by François Dubois, a Huguenot painter born circa 1529 in Amiens, who settled in Switzerland. Although Dubois did not witness the massacre, he depicts Admiral Coligny's body hanging out of a window at the rear to the right. To the left rear, Catherine de' Medici is shown emerging from the Louvre castle to inspect a heap of bodies.

                                        Synopsis

 

PRELUDE
 

The prelude consists of a series of repetitions (“variations” is too strong a word), with dramatic contrasts in dynamics, pitch, and orchestration, of the great Lutheran chorale Ein feste Burg ("A Mighty Fortress"). This wonderful tune is used a number of times later in the opera for dramatic purposes.

Sir John Everett Millais - Mercy: St Bartholomew’s Day, 1572 - 1886

ACT I
 

It was a time, in France, of the bloodiest work of religious fanaticism, and a series of civil wars between the Catholics and the Huguenots came to an uneasy pause when, in 1572, Marguerite of France married Henry of Bourbon, thus uniting the leading Catholic and Protestant families. But the massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve put an end to the Huguenot hopes for domination. The opera opens not long before St. Bartholomew’s Eve, and the massacre closes it.
 

The Count de Nevers is one of the leading young Catholic noblemen, and in his castle in Touraine he is entertaining some of his boon companions, jolly blades all. Nevers himself is the only one among them who has some character, and be asks them to show a bit of tolerance t9ward an expected guest even though he is a Huguenot aristocrat. Nevertheless, when the handsome but distinctly provincial Raoul de Nangis is introduced, they utter some ungentlemanly asides about his looking like a Calvinist.
 

The banquet now begins, and a rousing chorus is sung in praise of good eating and the wines of Touraine. Next, a toast is proposed to everyone's mistress, but Nevers admits that as he is about to be married, he must decline; in fact, he adds, he finds the circumstance rather embarrassing: the ladies seem to be pursuing him even more ardently than before his engagement became known. Raoul then obliges with an account of his own love—an unknown beauty whom he saved one day from a gang of rowdy students. This aria (Plus blanche que la blanche hermine—"Whiter than ermine") features the obbligato of an obsolete instrument, the viola d'amore, which makes it especially effective. He has dedicated his heart to this unknown, a romantic gesture that wins only smiles of condescension from his worldly-wise auditors.
 

Raoul’s retainer, Marcel, a redoubtable old soldier, is completely out of sympathy with his master’s making such acquaintances and tries to warn him. He boldly huffs out the Lutheran chorale, A Mighty Fortress, and proudly admits that it was he who, in battle, had administered the scar to the face of one of the guests, Cosse. Cosse good-naturedly invites the old soldier to drink. Being an unbending Calvinist, Marcel refuses, but he does substitute something better—the Chanson huguenote, a vigorous and brutal anti-papist battle song which features a refrain on the syllables Piff, paff denoting the damage inflicted on Catholics by Protestant bullets.
 

The merriment is interrupted when the host is called out to receive a message from a young lady in the garden. Everyone speculates on Nevers' continuing intrigues even after his engagement, and Raoul is deeply shocked when, looking through a window with the others, he recognizes in Nevers' visitor the unknown beauty he had vowed to love. He swears vengeance. But he does not overhear Nevers when, on his return, be says that his visitor was his fiancee, Valentine, a protege of the Queen's, who has asked to be released from her engagement. Nevers, though deeply chagrined, has acquiesced.


Another messenger from another lady again interrupts the party. This messenger is the page Urbain, so young a chap that his part is taken by a mezzo-soprano, and in a once-admired aria (Une dame noble et sage—"A wise and noble lady") he announces that he bears a letter from an important personage. It turns out to be addressed not to Nevers, as everyone supposed, but to Raoul; and it asks that he permit himself to be blindfolded before going to a rendezvous. When Nevers sees the missive, he recognizes the seal as that of Marguerite of Valois, the King's sister. This mark of esteem for   the young Huguenot wins him the respect of all the Catholic gentry present, and they convey their politically motivated congratulations in the finale. Marcel, for his part, strikes in with a Те Deum and the observation that Samson has overcome the Philistines.

Carl Huns - The eve of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre

ACT II
 

In the garden of her castle of Chenonceaux, in Touraine, Marguerite of Valois is awaiting Raoul de Nangis. The ladies-in-waiting sing the praises of the countryside, as does the Queen herself. The Queen, it appears, has sent for Raoul so that he may become engaged to Valentine, the daughter of the Count de St. Bris, one of the leading Catholic noblemen. Such a marriage, rather than one with another Catholic, should help allay the civil strife. Valentine shows only a ladylike hesitation about being made a political pawn in this fashion: it was long the common fate of aristocratic girls.
 

The page Urbain is also present at the court, having been thrilled by leading the handsome, blindfolded cavalier through the streets. He is a Cherubino-like figure, in love with Valentine, with the Queen, and with the sex in general. But he is as much coarser in conception than Cherubino as Meyerbeer's music was coarser than Mozart's. The fascination women have for him is projected by his acting as a Peeping Tom when the girls of the court go bathings which they do at the back of the stage within tantalizing half-sight of the audience. They also sing a bathers' chorus.
 

When Raoul is finally led blindfolded into the presence of the Queen and left alone with her, he is permitted to take оff the scarf and finds himself at once overpowered with the beauty of the young woman he sees. He does not know it is the Queen, and he vows gallantly to serve her. The Queen, for her part, assures him that there will be occasion for her to call upon him.
 

It is only when Urbain returns to announce that the whole court is about to arrive that Raoul learns whom he has been vowing to serve. And when the Queen tells him that this service must be his marrying the daughter of the Count de St. Bris for political reasons, he readily consents, even though he does not know he has ever seen the girl. The courtiers then enter to the tune of a minuet and range themselves on two sides of the stage, Catholic and Huguenots, with Nevers and 
 

St Bris heading the fonner. Some letters brought to the Queen demand, in the name of King Charles IX, the presence of the Catholics in Paris for some important but undisclosed project. Before they leave, however, the Queen demands and receives an oath from both sides pledging them to eternal peace. It is a mast impressive chorus.
 

But now St Bris brings in his daughter, Valentine, whom Raoul is supposed to marry. Recognizing with horror that this is the lady who called on Nevers during the banquet, he vigorously protests that he will never marry her. St. Bris and Nevers are outraged, and bloodshed is avoided only through the intercession of the Queen and her reminder that the gentlemen must hurry to Pans. In the grand finale, during which passions are heated rather than cooled, Raoul insists that he too shall go to Paris, Valentine faints, and Marcel sings A Mighty Fortress.

John Everett Millais, A Huguenot, on St. Bartholomew's Day, Refusing to Shield Himself from Danger by Wearing the Roman Catholic Badge (1852)

ACT III
 

If you visit the Ргe aux Clercs region of Paris today, you will find it a busy, well-built-up portion of the Left Bank with the Boulevard St Germain as its principal thoroughfare. In the sixteenth century, however, there was still a large field, bordered by a church and some taverns, and it is here that the third act opens with a jolly chorus of townsmen enjoying a holiday. A group of Huguenots also renders an effective number, the Rataplan Chorus, in which they bid defiance to the Catholics and praise their distinguished leader, the Admiral Coligny. A third choral number follows—a chorus of nuns singing an Ave Maria, which precedes a premarital procession into the church. Raoul having refused Valentine, she has once more been betrothed to Nevers, and they are making arrangements for the wedding. When the party, which includes the bride, the groom, and the father of the bride, has passed into the church, Marcel asks rather disrespectfully for St Bris, and violence is avoided only by the distraction of a group of gypsies, who perform for the townsfolk and the Huguenot soldiery.

The wedding arrangements having been made, the gentlemen of the party emerge, leaving Valentine inside to pray. Marcel takes this opportunity to deliver his message to St Bris, which turns out be a challenge to a duel from Raoul. A friend of St. Bris’s, Maurevert, suggests that there are other ways than dangerous duels to handle such fellows as Raoul, and they retire to the church to discuss plans to ambush him.
 

When the sounding of the curfew has dispersed the crowd, the plotters leave the church, making final plans for their treachery, and a moment later Valentine, who has overheard everything, runs out distraught. It appears that she loves the man who has spurned her and wishes to warn him, but Marcel tells her it is too late: Raoul must already have left home. After a long duet on this theme, Valentine re-enters the church while Marcel stands guard, vowing to die with his master if necessary.
 

He does not have long to wait. The principals come, each with two seconds, and in a concerted number vow to abide strictly by the rules of honor in the ensuing duel. But Marcel knows that Maurevert and other Catholics are waiting just outside the fields and he knocks on the tavern door shoutings “Coligny!” Out come the Huguenot soldiers; out come many Catholic students; out come many women on each side to lend their voices to the general scene of confusion and incipient bloodshed.
 

Fortunately, Marguerite of Valois happens to be riding by at the time and once more puts a stop to all the violence. She denounces both sides for having broken their oaths. Marcel informs her that a veiled lady had told him that treachery was afoot, and when Valentine emerges from the church and St. Bris removes her veil, everyone is amazed—St. Bris that his daughter should have betrayed him, Raoul that this particular girl should have done him such a service. Once again he is in love with her.
 

But what of the bridegroom, Nevers? His prospective father-in-law, St. Bris, had carefully kept him uninformed of the dastardly plot, and, all smiling and unknowing, he now comes up the river Seine on a gaily decorated barge to claim his bride.

A wedding always brings out the more peaceful sentiments of human beings (or at least of opera choruses), and so the scene ends with general rejoicing among the populace, including those gypsies, who come back for a return engagement. The Huguenot soldiery, it is true, refuses to be caught up in the celebration but contents itself with mutters. The only outspokenly sad characters are the leading soprano and tenor: Valentine is heartbroken over having to marry a man she hates, while Raoul is now furious over losing her to his rival. All these different emotions supply fine material for the finale of the act.
 

Marguerite de Valois, Queen of Navarre in her bedroom during the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, painting by Fragonard Alexandre-Evariste, 1836

ACT IV
 

It is now August 24, 1572, the day of the St. Bartholomew massacre. Valentine, in the home of her new husband, bewails her lost love in the aria Parmi les pleurs ("Bathed all in tears"), and then is startled to see Raoul himself enter the room. He has come to bid her a final farewell and then to die, if need be; but when she tells him that Nevers and St Bris are expected any moment, he consents to hide behind a tapestry.
 

The Catholic noblemen now forgather and learn, from St. Bris, that Catherine de Medici, the Queen Mother, has decreed a general massacre of all Protestants for that very night. It will be made easier by the fact that many of the Huguenot leaders will be gathered together at the Hotel de Nesle celebrating the marriage of Marguerite of Valais to Henry of Navarre. Nevers, one of the rarely honorable baritones of opera, declines to have anything to do with such infamy and dramatically breaks his sword. St. Bris orders him held in custody as a renegade from the Catholic cause, and a second impressive oath scene ensues, entitled the Benediction of the Swords. Toward its close St. Bris distributes white scarves, which have been brought in by three monks, to be worn as identifying arm bands during the holocausts.

Raoul has, of course, overheard all this. Hе has overheard St. Bris give the detailed instructions about assuming posi
tions at the sound of the first peal from the church of St. Germain and to strike at the sound of the second. He rushes forth from his hiding place as soon as the men have departed, but the door is locked. Valentine emerges from her own room, and there follows the long duet that moved even Richard Wagner. He wishes to warn his fellow-Protestants; she pleads on behalf of her relatives and the holy cause; he replies that it is a fine cause which demands the murder of brothers. But when she tells him of her love, he is moved to ask her to run away with him. It is the tolling of the bell, however, that brings him back to his sense of duty and of horror; and when it tolls for the second time, he drags Valentine to the window, where she may see the fearful acts commencing in the streets. Finally, praying for her protection, he jumps out of the window. Valentine faints.

Karlis Huns  -  A Scene From the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre (1870)

ACT V
 

Scene 1 The Huguenot notables are celebrating, with a ballet among other things, the marriage of Marguerite and Henry at the Hotel de Nesle. Raoul, already wounded, interrupts the merriment with the frightful news of what is going on outside. Protestant churches are in flames; the Admiral Coligny has been murdered. After a rousing chorus the men draw their swords and follow Raoul into the streets to do battle.
 

Scène de la Saint-Barthélemy, assassinat de Briou, gouverneur du Prince de Conti, 24 août 1572, Joseph Nicolas Robert-Fleury


Scene 2 In one of the beleaguered Protestant churches Raoul, Valentine, and Marcel are reunited, the last being badly wounded. Raoul wishes to return to the streets to fight, but Valentine urges safety on him. If he will wear a white scarf and go with her to the Louvre, they will have the protection of the Queen. But as this would mean becoming a Catholic, Raoul refuses. Even the report that Nevers has been killed in the fighting and that he may now marry Valentine does not persuade him to save his life at the expense of his principles. Finally Valentine tells him that her love is so great that she will give up her own religion. The lovers kneel before Marcel to have their union blessed, and from within the church comes the sound of the choir singing A Mighty Fortress.
 

The sound is rudely interrupted by the violence of the Catholic forces breaking in on the other side of the church. The three principals kneel in prayer; Marcel eloquently describes the vision of paradise that he sees ki his mind’s eye; and at the close of the trio their enemies break in. They refuse the alternative of recanting their religious heresies; they bravely sing the chorale; and they are dragged out into the streets by the soldiery.
 

One morning at the gates of the Louvre, 19th-century painting by Édouard Debat-Ponsan. 
Catherine de' Medici is in black.


 

Scene 3  Somehow, they have managed to escape their cap- tors, and, amid the rushing soldiers, Valentine and Marcel are helping the mortally wounded Raoul along one of the quays of Paris. St. Bris appears at the head of a troop through the darkness and demands to know who they are^ Despite Valentine's frantic efforts to keep him quiet, Raoul shouts out, “Huguenots!” and St. Bris orders his men to fire. It is too late when he recognizes that one of the victims is his own daughter, and she dies breathing a prayer for him.
 

Once again Marguerite of Valois happens to pass by, and she is aghast when she recognizes the three fresh bodies before her. This time her efforts to bring peace to the scene are in vain. The soldiers are still swearing to wipe out all Protestants when the curtain falls. 

Print shows the attempted assassination of Coligny at left, his subsequent murder at right,
and scenes of the general massacre in the streets.

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