Major roles: dramS,lyrS,2T,Bar
minor roles: S,lyrS,3A,4T,4Bar,4B,3speakers,child mime; chorus
In a wine shop in Paris the discontented poor complain of the inequities of their lot, encouraged by the owner Defarge and his wife. Revenge, they say, is coming. Sounds of an accident outside alert them to the fact that a child has been killed by a carriage – the unconcerned owner, the Marquis de Saint Evremonde, offers the bereaved father a purse, but it is refused. Lucie Manette arrives and is reunited with her father, Dr Manette, who had been held prisoner in the Bastille for fifteen years. Six years later, in a Soho garden, Lucie is preparing to celebrate her engagement on her 21st birthday to Charles Darnay, nephew of Saint Evremonde who has renounced his family's repressive associations. The lawyer Sydney Carton, who has already saved Darnay’s life when he was tried on suspicion of being a French spy, and is in love with Lucie, reacts badly to the news of the engagement and laments the waste of his life. The scene returns to the wine shop, where Madame Defarge and her associates are celebrating the fall of the Bastille. They force Gabelle – a former servant of the Saint Evremonde family – to write to Darnay in England to come to his assistance. At the Revolutionary Tribunal Darnay stands accused by Defarge and his wife, but the most damning evidence is contained in papers written by Manette whilst in prison. Darnay is condemned to death for his father’s crimes. Later, Carton visits him in prison, drugs him and substitutes himself for the condemned man. In the final scene in the Place de la République, Carton goes bravely to his death, comforting the last moments of a young condemned girl. Madame Defarge at last realises the substitution, and falls down senseless, cheated of her revenge.