Léontine’s Villa: Outdoor terrasse at sunrise.
Valcour has been hopelessly in love with Léontine, a beautiful young widow, for years (aria: “Depuis longtemps” — “For a long time”). With the help of his trusted accomplice Ophémon (who himself has secretly enrolled the help of his dear friend Dorothée), Valcour has been showering Léontine with a stream of gifts, flowers and love letters. He has done so anonymously; Léontine was left feeling betrayed after her late husband’s death and Valcour is certain that she has no interest now in pursuing romance with anyone. He tells Ophémon that he has lost all hope of winning her affections, while Ophémon responds that it is time for Valcour to reveal his secret (duet: “Tant de constance, tant d’amour” — “Such constancy, such love”). Léontine accidentally overhears this conversation and learns that she is madly loved by Valcour.
Léontine, trying to conceal her new knowledge that Valcour loves her, asks him to settle a dispute she is having with her friend Dorothée. The Anonymous Lover has sent Léontine a bouquet of flowers along with a letter asking her to carry it at a wedding later that day; if she doesn’t, he will take it as a sign that he should stop sending gifts and leave her alone. Dorothée thinks that it would do no harm for Léontine to accept the flowers. Wanting to see Valcour’s reaction, Léontine claims she does not want to hurt her secret admirer’s feelings (aria: “Son amour, sa constance extreme” — “His love, his extreme constancy”), and that she doesn’t want to lead him on either. Meanwhile, her dear friend Dorothée is slightly surprised by Léontine’s strange behavior. Valcour convinces Léontine to carry the bouquet.
Jeannette and Colin, a young couple about to be married, arrive and express their thanks to Léontine (chorus: “Cantons, célébrons notre dame” — “Let us sing, let us celebrate our lady”) for making their wedding possible. They hope that everyone might be as filled with love and joy (chanson: “Jouissez de l’allégresse” — “Enjoy the happiness”) as they are. Léontine is surprised, but this wedding seems to be one of the festivities the Anonymous Lover regularly organizes for her. The guests are enthusiastic to prepare the wedding and the joy is contagious. Dorothée even improvises a special gift for the happy couple.
Dorothée, Léontine, and Valcour find themselves alone for a brief moment as all guests start the festivities inside Léontine’s Villa. Valcour tells Léontine that the Anonymous Lover might very well be watching them nearby.
He convinces her to call out to her mysterious suitor and ask him to reveal himself. When she does so, Valcour overdramatically — and clumsily — answers that he himself is the tormented Anonymous Lover…a declaration that makes Dorothée laugh at Valcour’s “joke.” But a moment of genuine transparency occurs between Valcour and Léontine and both are shaken, feeling “ seen” by the other. Léontine feels overwhelmed, even dizzy, and everyone’s efforts to help only make it worse.
Valcour and Ophémon quickly try to convince Léontine that it was all in jest, while Jeannette and Colin are sympathetic to Léontine’s obvious emotional distress (quintet: “Que de maux mon coeur ressnet” — “My heart feels such pain”).
Léontine’s bedroom, the same evening.
Alone, Léontine feels embarrassed and laments that Valcour is unlikely to understand her feelings (recitative: “Enfin une foule importune” — “At last this unwelcome crowd”) but she wishes that she could unburden her heart to him. Ophémon, pushed by Valcour, arrives and is forced to improvise news that he has spoken to the Anonymous Lover. Léontine presses him for details (duet: “Ah, finissez de grâce” — “Ah, go on please”) while Ophémon resists. Finally, Ophémon describes how the Anonymous Lover worries that it would be impossible for Léontine to love him (aria: “Aimer sans pouvoir le dire” — “To love without being able to admit it”), but that he wishes to reveal his identity anyway. Léontine agrees to the meeting.
As she awaits the arrival of her “not so secret” admirer, Léontine reflects that her heart is now full of passion (ariette: “Du tendre amour” — “Such is the power of tender love”), something she never expected. When Valcour shows up, explaining that he’s just there to be her supportive friend, Léontine desperately tries to get him to confess his love for her (duet: “Non, je ne puis rien entendre” — “No, I can’t listen anymore”). As Ophémon, Dorothée, and eventually the whole village listen outside the door, Léontine and Valcour finally confess their love for each other. Valcour is about to reveal that he himself is the Anonymous Lover (trio: “Ah, quel trouble” — “Ah, such confusion”) when Léontine kisses him, putting an end to the conversation.
Léontine tells Dorothée, who already knew everything as she and Ophémon were hoping for this happy denouement, and all join Jeannette and Colin for what is now a double wedding (chorus: “Deux noces à la fois” — “Two weddings at once”). The two couples celebrate their happiness with songs and dances (quartet: “Aimons-nous sans cesse” — “Let us love one another”).
Synopsis by Mark Lyons, courtesy of Los Angeles Opera with edits by stage director, Maria Todaro to fit Minnesota Opera’s new production.