LA NONNE SANGLANTE Barre de navigation

(Creation in the Opera, on October 18, 1854)

Situation : En Bohême, au XIe siècle.




Le comte Ludorf



Le baron Moldaw



Pierre l'ermite









Agnès, la nonne sanglante






Act 1. The castle of the baron Moldaw.
The curtain opens on a pitched battle among the vassals of baron Moldaw and those of count Ludorf. Suddenly Pierre, the hermit, appears to obtain support from both sides in rallying a crusade against the unfaithful (air: "Dieu puissant"). He begs the two families to put an end to their hereditary hatred, and mutual extermination, and offers them an alliance by which Moldaw will grant the hand of his daughter, Agnès, to the elder son of Ludorf, Théobald. Moldaw and Ludorf accept and the pact is sealed. Moldaw invites Ludorf and his suite to his castle. When all have entered, with the exception of Pierre, the youngest son of Ludorf, Rodolphe appears; he is bewildered to learn that Agnès, with whom he is in love, is going to be given to his brother Théobald (duet: "En vain la discorde inhumaine") .After having tried, in vain, to console Rodolphe, Pierre leaves. Agnès runs out to meet Rodolphe, saddened to marry a man whom she does not love (duet: "Mon père d'un ton inflexible"). Rodolphe asks her to meet him at the north ramparts, at midnight, with the idea of kidnapping her. Agnès hesitates because this same night, the legendary ghost of the bloody Nun should appear in the castle. All doors will be intentionally left opened, and it is not advisable to disrupt her rounds. Rodolphe says this legend is pure whim, and suggests to use it to their advantage: Agnès will disguise as bloody Nun, to be able to go out without any trouble at midnight. This plan horrifies Agnès. Ludorf, Moldaw and their vassals arrive suddenly on the scene (final: "Que vois-je"). Rodolphe refuses downright to give up his love for Agnès, and is chased away from the house by his father. While all those present express their indignation in front of the turn of events, Agnès murmurs her approval to Rodolphe.


Acte II. A road leading to the main doors of Moldaw castle.
A friendly farmers' meeting disperses as the night falls. Arthur, Rodolphe's page, reveals the legend of the bloody Nun and sings the courteous meeting of his Master with a noble lady;(stanza: "L'espoir et l'amour"). Rodolphe dismisses Arthur to make sure that everything is ready for a fast departure, and waits for midnight to ring. At the twelfth blow, Rodolphe loses his cool. When the person, that he believes to be Agnès, steps down an outside staircase of the building, he madly swears eternal allegiance to her. Regrettably for Rodolphe, it's not Agnès but the bloody Nun herself. The ruins of a Gothic castle. Rodolphe has led the bloody Nun to the castle of his ancestors. The ruined castle is suddenly back to its original greatness; the ancient candelabras ignite magically, and a banquet table covered with food materializes in the centre of the scene. One can hear the suppressed sound of people marching. The ghosts of the ancestors of Rodolphe appear through every door, and sit at the table. The bloody Nun reveals finally her identity to Rodolphe, and explains to him that his ancestors came to attend their marriage. As the ghosts leave, the bloody Nun declares, gloating, that Rodolphe will be hers for ever.


Acte III. A large room in a farm.
After a peasant waltz, Arthur enters in search of his master. The farmers tell him that Rodolphe stayed with them for several months. Having finally found him, the page announces to Rodolphe that his elder brother was killed in combat, and that he is now free to marry Agnès. In reply, Rodolphe reveals to Arthur the situation in which he is (duet: "Au milieu de l'orage"): every night the bloody Nun appears at his side, to remind him of his wedding vows. Arthur tries to raise his morale. Peace befalls Rodolphe (air: "Un jour plus pur "), but keeping to her habit, the Nun appears at midnight (duet: "Me voici "). In despair, he begs her to break the pact which unites them. She explains to him the only way to do so: he has to kill the man who murdered her when she was mortal. She refuses to reveal his identity to Rodolphe, but he hastily agrees to do the task which will free him.


Acte IV. Rodolphe's gardens.
Rodolphe and Agnès are about to get married. Ludorf exhorts all his guests to eat and drink (stanzae: "Bons chevaliers"). A ballet is given to amuse them. After the dance, the clock rings midnight. The Nun appears, visible only to Rodolphe, and points to him his own father, Ludorf, as the murderer. Struck by horror, Rodolph is incapable to pursue the wedding ceremony. Old hatred between the two families bursts again.


Act V. A dry place near Moldaw's castle. The grave of the bloody Nun, and the chapel of Pierre the hermit in the background.
Ludorf stops (air: "Mon fils me fuit"). His son avoids any contact with him, and Ludorf is now ready to agree to be punished for his crime, under the condition of seeing again Rodolphe, one last time. He hides, and hears passing members of the Moldaw family, discussing their project of ambushing his son in the chapel of Pierre. Rodolphe appears, dragging Agnès behind him (duet: "Toi Rodolphe, parjure et traître"). He confesses to her, the curse of the bloody Nun. As he cannot kill his father, Rodolphe decides to look for refuge in a distant country. It is impossible for him to get married because of the night-appearances of the Nun. Moved by the agony of his son, Ludorf rushes into the chapel, knowing that he will be taken for Rodolphe. He is mortally wounded by Moldaws men, and drags himself to the grave of the bloody Nun, where he dies in the arms of his son. Finally avenged, the Nun rises in heaven, to implore divine leniency for Ludorf and for herself.

haut de page


To write:

Sapho - La Nonne sanglante - Le médecin malgré lui - Faust - Philémon et Baucis - La colombe
La reine de Saba - Mireille - Roméo et Juliette - Cinq-Mars - Polyeucte - Le tribut de Zamora