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.