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Martin Guerre


Musique: Claude-Michel Schonberg
Paroles: Alain Boublil • Claude-Michel Schonberg • Edward Hardy • Herbert Kretzmer
Livret: Alain Boublil • Claude-Michel Schonberg

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Disons-le tout de suite, Martin Guerre est l'une de nos œuvres favorites. Pourquoi? On n'a même pas envie d'y réfléchir. C'est une œuvre à la fois intime et puissante. La musique est prodigieuse, les paroles sont toujours justes et proches de ce que l'on peut avoir de mieux au théâtre. La scénographie était simple mais soutenait l'œuvre de bout en bout. Un grand musical populaire de qualité, notre référence.

ACT ONE
On the Battlefield, 1564
After a fierce battle, Martin and Arnaud reflect on the futility of their lives as soldiers and on their close friendship, and Martin reveals that he was married at fourteen.
In Artigat, seven years earlier
Bertrande, Guillaume, and Martin are playing childishly together when the scene merges into the wedding of Bertrande and Martin, with Guillaume watching on jealously. Martin’s Uncle Pierre and the other villagers forcefully impress upon the young couple the need for a child, an important heir for Catholic Artigat. Protestants briefly appear, and are treated with hostility. Martin’s failure to consummate the marriage is seen as the work of the devil and the cause of the continuing deluge the village is suffering from. Father Dominic publicly whips Martin to release the demons in him. Martin, totally humiliated, rejects Bertrande’s sympathy and decides to leave in search of a new life.
On the Battlefield, 1564
Arnaud persuades Martin that it is time to return to Artigat, and they decide to go together. But the Protestants attack, and Martin is badly wounded saving Arnaud’s life. As he lies dying he asks Arnaud to tell Bertrande he is sorry.
Artigat, 1564
Artigat is suffering from a drought now, and again it is Bertrande’s barren state that is held to blame. In her despair she turns to the more sympathetic covert Protestants and becomes one of them. Father Dominic insists that Bertrande marry Guillaume, but she hates him and refuses, always hoping that Martin will return.
Artigat, three months later
Benoit, the village fool, is out in the fields with Louison, his beloved scarecrow, when Arnaud arrives looking for Bertrande. He tells Benoit his name but when Benoit rushes into the village to tell them a stranger is looking for Bertrande they don’t give him the chance to say who it is and immediately jump to the conclusion that Martin has returned. Bertrande does realise that it is not Martin, but when Arnaud tells her that Martin is dead she decides to let Arnaud stay, which is what the village wants, rather than be forced into marriage with Guillaume. Arnaud takes up village life with gusto, and when the harvest is good they believe it is because of him. Arnaud worries about the deception, but by now he and Bertrande have fallen deeply in love and eventually they allow themselves to make love. Bertrande confesses to him that she is now a Protestant, and Arnaud accompanies her to the Protestant service held secretly in the woods. At the feast Arnaud announces that Bertrande is carrying their child, but Guillaume denounces him as a Protestant and draws a knife on him. In order to save him, Benoit stuns everyone by saying that it is not Martin, and Arnaud is arrested so that he can stand trial. As the curtain falls there is a dramatic glimpse of Martin, alive and on his way back to Artigat.

ACT TWO
Artigat, a week later
Martin is seen wondering if Bertrande still loves him, while Arnaud is in jail believing he is going to die. The court case begins, and the Judge calls for witnesses to identify who the prisoner really is. Nothing is clear, the Catholics and Protestants cause uproar, and the judge has just ruled that there is no case to answer when Martin appears. Bertrande is called to identify the real Martin, but Arnaud then confesses and Bertrande admits that she knew all the time that he was not Martin. The judge sends Arnaud to jail, leaving it up to Martin to decide his fate. Guillaume whips up hatred for the Protestants, inciting violence and ripping Louison apart.
At the Jail
Arnaud tries to explain to Martin that he believed him dead, and although Martin feels betrayed he unselfishly sets him free so that Arnaud and Bertrande can continue to live their lives together.
In the Village Square
Guillaume and the Catholics attack the Protestants and burn the village, many of them dying in the fighting. Guillaume holds a knife to Bertrande’s throat, and Martin and Arnaud both try to distract his attention away from her. As Guillaume is about to stab Martin, Arnaud intervenes and is stabbed instead, saving Martin’s life. Benoit then kills Guillaume with the heavy wooden post that supported Louison. As Arnaud lies dying in Bertrande’s arms, he asks Martin to forgive him and to care for his child. While still proclaiming her love for Arnaud, Bertrande reaches out for Martin’s hand.

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