The musical thematic analysis

by Marc Mandel

The stake is fully sung opera.
It is composed of three different musical themes :

1/ Music to explain the progress of the action.
The game of brelan (Act 2- Scene 6)
The murder (Act 3 – Scene 5)
The stake (Act 3 – Scene 2)

2/ Unique melodies for a scene.
Among others actions :
The fan (Act 1 – Scene 5)
The bet is won (Act 1 – Scene 7)
Villefort and Louise (Act 1 – Scene 10)
Charles (Act 2 – Scene 4)
The Villefort’s death (Act 3 – Scene 1)
Noayes comes to claimb his debt (Act 3 – scene 7)
The Louise’s anger (Act 3 – Scene 8)

3/ Melodies for soloist with quotes from these themes in other scenes.

The main is the love duet between Louise and Charles
(Act 2 – Scene 7 – My love, my secret )

This melody is composed of two parts
A : “My love, my sun ..”
B : “I don’t want to leave you, keep me by your side”

This thème A is introduced for the first time in the Overture

The theme is introduced in Scene 3 of Act 2 when Manon introduces Louise to Charles. It underlines their love at first sight

The first duet that brings Louise and Charles together alone is introduced by the musical theme that will be developed in stage 7.

The second part of this melodie is sung in counterpoint scene 5 of Act 2, during the first duet of Louise and Charles.
Louise – I don’t know anymore
Charles – Louise
Louise – everything is confused
Charles – Louise
Louise – I’m lost

The complete melody finally appears in scene 7 to conclude Act 2.

In Scene 4 of Act 3, Charles announces his departure for Versailles to Louise. She shows her desperation at the prospect of this separation by singing their love duet

Act 3 – Scene 6 – Louise confesses her murder. Manon suggests fleeing to Spain. Louise does not want to be separated from her love and shows it again by evoking the theme of the love duet

Finally, in the last duet of the finale – scene 9 – Act 3, the theme is evoked one last time.

Act 1 scene 1 : Noayes receive his guests

This is the first scene of the Stake. The Marquis de Noayes welcomes his guests, who express their pleasure at being invited.
Louise arrives on her father’s arm.
Then Louise sees her friends in the distance and asks her father if she can join them.
Finally Noayes proposes marriage to Louise to her father

This 6-minute scene is composed of melodic interventions, coming on a harmonic structure composed by 3 chords played by the harp. This three chords are rotate during its duration.
Even if the tone modulates several times, the shape of the 3 chords persist.
At first we hear the harp turn on =>
Ab7 + / Bbm7 / Cm7/ Ab7 +
Then after the first modulation the chords become:
A 7+ / Bm7 / Dbm 7/ A 7+


The main tune of the scene 1 “This a delightful day – The gardens are beautiful – and the people very friendly – we are the happy”
is repeated at the end of scene 3 in the trio Louise – Manon – Apolline

This melody is evoked one last time in the introduction of Scene 8 of Act 1
when Philippe sees the trio of Louise, Manon and Apolline.

We can also note that the very beginning of this introduction is the main theme of the previous scene “Are these young ladies playful? “

Are these young ladies playful?

The weddings requests

During the reception given by the Marquis de Noayes, the Count de Villefort receives 2 wedding requests for his daughter Louise

The first one from Noayes himself

The second one from the marquis Philippe Baguy de Puyvallées

Laugh, mock and bet again

Act 1 – Scene 8 – Snubbed by Louise, Philippe is mocked by his friends

Act 1 – Scene 11 – Philippe, on his wedding day to Louise, ironically remembers the mockery of his friends

The Charles Ligeac de Vigonde’s military theme

Act 2 – Scene 3 – Emilien de Montéront to organize a reception in honour of his friend Charles Ligeac of Vigonde recently promoted captain of the Dragons, following his campaign with La Fayette, to liberate the New World.

At the beginning of this scene 3, the guests arrive two by two and we ear bits of their conversations. While the first couple continues their conversation gradually, the second comes to the fore, then gradually moves away to leave the foreground to a new couple. The 3 conversations are superimposed on a classical style accompaniment of this military theme in honour of Charles, until the request for silence of Emilien who sings the praises of Charles in the part mentioned in the previous paragraph.

But this theme is addressed for the first time at the end of stage 2 of Act 2, Manon invited Louise to this reception, makes him dazzle the interest to accept his invitation

Let’s drink to health

During this scene 3, Emilien invites the guests to drink to the health of Charles

Then this song is repeated again on other words, at the end of Scene 4, when Emilien reduce the tension created by Charles’s words about war and heroism

A road, a path, a trail

In scene 4 of Act 3, Charles announces his departure for Versailles but promises to find a way to leave Louise out of the confusion.

Scene 9 of Act 3, Charles keeps his promise

Thème B from the opening

Theme A of the opening was the evocation of the love duet of Louise and Charles whose musical climax is in scene 7 of act 2
The theme B of this opening is developed as a counter-song in the final duet of Louise in Charles, in scene 9 of Act 3

Opening – Thème B
Acte 3 – Scène 9 (beginning) – thème B
Acte 3 – Scène 9 (final) – thème B