The very first ballet I ever saw: Manon!
The basic plot is following:
Manon is a promised mistress by her corrupt brother, Lescaut, to a wealthy old man who has taken a liking to Manon. However Manon falls in love with a young student, Des Grieux, and they decide to escape together.
The old man and Monsieur GM, who is another admirer of Manon, returns to find that Manon has escaped. Monsieur GM also desires Manon as a mistress, and thus Lescaut strikes a deal with Monsieur GM and promises Manon to him.
Manon and Des Grieux flees to his apartment, there they dance a duet and then Des Grieux leaves. Lescaut and Monsieur GM finds Manon at the apartment, Monsieur GM’s servants brings Manon a fur coat and expensive jewelry to persuade her to become Monsieur GM’s mistress. Lured by greed, Manon agrees.
Des Grieux returns to his apartment and Lescaut shows him money and try to convince him that he should allow the affair with Manon and Monsieur GM.
The scene starts at Madam’s hotel of ill reputation, girls dance and compete for the wealthiest costumers. Manon arrives with Monsieur GM, followed by the drunken Lescaut and Des Grieux. Des Grieux tries to make Manon give up on her life as an illegal courtesan, Manon refuses.
Manon then persuades Des Grieux to cheat on Monsieur GM in a game of cards in order to win Minsieur GM’s money. However Des Grieux gives away and is discovered. Manon escapes with Des Grieux while Lescaut is arrested.
The lovers quarrel on whether they should take Manon’s jewelry, Monsieur GM arrives with police men and a beaten Lescaut. Monsieur GM then shoots Lescaut for his part in cheating.
Manon has arrived in New Orleans with other arrested prostitutes to be sold as servants. They are sad, dirty and thirsty and their hair has been cut. Des Grieux has followed Manon in hope that he could support her.
The Gaoler, who is responsible for the deported women, is struck by Manon’s beauty and forces her to please him. Des Grieux breaks in and kills the Gaoler.
The lovers run away and is trapped in the Louisianan swamp. Manon is broken from the heat and her journey and the worries of running away, her life flashes back as images and haunts her until she is exhausted and dies in her lover’s arms.