When Abbé Antoine-François Prévost wrote L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut in 1731, he little imagined it would provide inspiration for operatic composers. Yet for Auber, Massenet, Puccini and others it did. Jules Massenet's score portrays the French Regency period which saw the twilight of an old world unable to move forward and the apparent birth of a new world offering plentiful promises of freedom. Manon is a complex character, torn between the two. She avoids being sent to a convent and embarks on a life of lasciviousness and wrongdoing. Her personal leap into the void is her passionate but self-destructive love affair with Des Grieux, a brief but delightful parenthesis which comes to a tragic end.