The Story —
Prologue - The Funeral of the Marquis de Merteuil
Aristocrats gather to pay their respects to the late Marquis, and his widow, the Marquise de Merteuil. As the mourners disperse, she is deeply comforted by the Comte de Gercourt.
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 Comte de Gercourt.. Her music teacher, Danceny, plays for her guests and the young musician soon catches Cécile’s eye, noticed only by Merteuil. 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 exacting Merteuil’s revenge. 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 Château
Valmont travels to the country to visit his aunt, Madame de Rosemonde. Valmont greets his aunt, and then suddenly spots her guest for the summer, Madame de Tourvel. Valmont is left alone with Tourvel, she rebuffs his advances, yet he 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.
Scene Four - Cécile’s débutante party
During Cécile’s débutante party, 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 and chances upon Danceny. Valmont and Merteuil decide to help the two secretly meet. Valmont approaches Tourvel, who leaves after hearing about Valmont’s reputation from Madame de Volanges. Cécile departs with Gercourt, leaving Danceny with Valmont and Merteuil as they coerce him into seeing her in private.
Scene Five - Cécile’s chambers
Valmont slips in to Cécile’s chambers to seduce the naïve, virtuous youth. Merteuil is waiting for confirmation that he has succeeded in corrupting the young woman.
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, and finally alone they express their albeit innocent but awkward love. Merteuil enters with Madame de Volanges exposing the secret affair. The engagement to Gercourt is broken off, and Merteuil is left to comfort Danceny.
Scene Two - Tourvel’s Chambers
Valmont enters begging for Tourvel's affections, so he can settle his bet with Merteuil, however it becomes obvious 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 Private Chambers
Merteuil has received Tourvel’s letter confessing her feelings for Valmont. He enters triumphantly in order to collect his prize. Merteuil mocks him for his true feelings for Tourvel, and tells him that he must break her heart or he is weak. Valmont retaliates. Fuming, 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, distraught. Danceny enters seeking revenge on Valmont.
Scene Five - Merteuil’s Salon
Merteuil is 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.