Dangerous Liaisons:
The Story


Liam Scarlett, Choreographer

The Story

#​ACT I

Prologue: The funeral of the Marquis de Merteuil Aristocrats gather to pay their respects to the late Marquis, and his widow, the Marquise de Mertueil. As the mourners disperse, she is deeply comforted by the Monsieur Gercourt, and her grief seems to be forgotten.​

Scene One - Marquise de Merteuil’s salon  

Six months have passed and Merteuil is entertaining Madame de Volanges whose daughter, the young, virginal Cécile, has just been announced to be wed. Merteuil is horrified to find out her suitor is Monsieur Gercourt, yet hides her obvious feelings of betrayal in front of everyone. She instructs her music teacher, Danceny to play for her guests and the young musician soon catches Cécile’s eye, noticed only by Merteuil. As the newly engaged couple take their leave, the Vicomte de Valmont enters with his valet Azolan. Valmont takes great pleasure seeing his former mistress in such distress, yet agrees to help her seek revenge. The two concoct a malicious bet to corrupt the innocent Cécile, thus ruining Gercourt’s engagement and his reputation. If Valmont succeeds in this then his prize will be one night again with his former lover, Merteuil.

Scene Two - Madame de Rosemonde’s country chateau 

Valmont travels to the country to visit his Aunt, Madame de Rosemonde, whom has a guest staying with her for the summer months, the Madame de Tourvel. Valmont greets his Aunt, and then suddenly spots Tourvel. Rosemonde leaves under the persuasive Azolan at Valmont’s orders and is left alone with Tourvel. She rebuffs his advances, yet he persists and, before leaving, promises he will write to her and demands that she reply.

Scene Three - Valmont’s private chambers  

Émilie and other courtesans are entertaining Valmont as he composes the letter he promised to Tourvel. Once completed, he instructs Azolan to deliver the letter, and is left alone with Émilie.

Scene Four - Cécile’s debutante party  

A party is being held to announce the engagement of Cécile to Gercourt and her coming out to society. Merteuil and Valmont discuss their bet, and Merteuil teases Valmont’s obvious attraction to Tourvel, and so another bet is made. Meanwhile Cécile slips away from Gercourt and chances upon Danceny. Valmont and Merteuil decide to help the two secretly meet, who are unaware of the dark intentions that are being plotted. Valmont approaches Tourvel, yet she hands back the letter he gave her, and leaves after hearing about Valmont’s reputation from Madame de Volanges. The party comes to an end and Cécile departs, leaving Danceny with Valmont and Merteuil as they coerce him into seeing her in private.

Scene Five - Cécile’s chambers  

Cécile is undressing and getting ready for bed and thinking of Danceny and her impeding wedding to Gercourt. There is a knock at the door, and Valmont slips in. He proceeds to educate the naïve, virtuous youth. He leaves her sleeping, with Merteuil waiting for conformation that he has succeeded in corrupting the young girl. 

#ACT II

Prologue: Letters of correspondence are exchanged regarding Valmont’s progress on both Cécile and Tourvel.

Scene One - Merteuil’s salon  

Danceny is giving Cécile a music lesson, carefully watched by Merteuil and Madame de Volanges. Valmont enters giving a sly look to Cécile and gracefully escorts Merteuil and Volanges away leaving Danceny and Cécile alone to express their albeit innocent but awkward love. Merteuil re-enters with Madame de Volanges and exposes the secret affair. Volanges furiously sends Cécile away and storms out leaving Merteuil to comfort Danceny.

Scene Two - Tourvel’s chambers 

Valmont has been sending Tourvel more letters, and she is torn between reading them or throwing them away. Valmont enters begging for Tourvel to take him, so he can settle his bet with Merteuil, however we see that Valmont has actually begun to love her and she softens into him also. He falls asleep and Tourvel writes to Merteuil, unaware of the bet.

Scene Three - Merteuil’s salon  

Merteuil has received Tourvel’s letter confessing her feelings for Valmont. He enters triumphantly in order to collect his prize. Merteuil mocks him, and degrades him by saying he has true feelings for Tourvel, and tells him that he must break her heart or he is weak. Valmont retaliates. Fuming that he has not got what he came for, he leaves to seek out Tourvel. Danceny enters as Valmont storms out, Merteuil plays victim and tells Danceny of Valmont’s wrongdoings with Cécile.

Scene Four - Tourvel’s chambers  

Valmont has come to Tourvel. He tells her he never truly loved her, breaking both their hearts. She is left alone in tears. Danceny enters asking where Valmont is, she tells him and Danceny pursues with a pistol in his hand.

Scene Five - Merteuil’s salon  

Unknowingly, Merteuil is sat entertaining guests when Azolan, followed by a distraught Danceny, enters and announces that Valmont is dead. He carries all the letters given to him by the dying Valmont, and exposes every dark detail of Merteuil’s corruptive plans. The guests leave in disgust and Merteuil is left alone and humiliated clutching to the letters of her loved one.