(A Musical Love Story) Lyrics by Edward Hardy & Stephen Clark with additional lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer & Alain Boublil
Music by Ckaude-Michel Schönberg : Book by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg
Prince Edward Theatre, London - 10 June, 1996
Revised version Prince Edward Theatre, London - 11 November, 1996 to 28 February, 1998
1560, on a battlefield somewhere in France a mercenary soldier in the Catholic army. Martin Guerre, tells his friend Arnaud du Thil the story of his childhood. Seven years ago in Artigat when he was only a youth, his Uncle Pierre Guerre, a rich landowner. arranged for him to marry Bertrande de Rols.
The small community rejoiced and waited for Bertrande to give the family an heir but the young Martin did not consummate the marriage. Constant rain threatened the crops and Guillaume, who was secretly in love with Bertrande convinced the Superstitious villagers that Bertrande's failure to conceive was the work of Satan. Martin became the scapegoat and was ritually beaten by the priest Father Dominic to exorcise the Devil. Bitter and humiliated he left Bertrande and the village to start a new life.
Arnaud now urges Martin to return home but they are suddenly attacked by the Protestant army. Shielding Arnaud, Martin is stabbed and is left for dead on the battlefield.
In Artigat, Bertrande is under pressure to remarry and take Guillaume as her new husband. The crops are now threatened by drought. Just as the village blamed Martin for the deluge they now blame Bertrande for no rain. A stranger appears and asks Benoit, the village idiot, to go and look for Bertrande. As if by a miracle a thunderclap is heard presaging rain. The newcomer is Arnaud du Thil who has come to bring Bertrande news of Martin's death, but he is hailed as the prodigal son by the villagers before he is able to say who he really is.
Alone with Bertrande, Arnaud confesses the truth but as he tries to leave he is blocked by villagers who will not let him go. The relationship between Bertrande and Arnaud slowly deepens and when eventually they become lovers she confesses that she is now a Protestant and takes him to witness their secret worship. Guillaume spies on them and realises that this is his opportunity for revenge. He incites Pierre and the villagers against the Protestants. As Guillaume threatens to kill Arnaud, Benoit, hoping to save him, blurts out, "He is not Martin Guerre". On the orders of Pierre Guerre Arnaud is arrested and sent for trial. Meanwhile Martin Guerre has survived his near fatal injury and is on his way back to Artigat.
Arnaud is brought to trial still claiming to be Martin. A succession of witnesses is called. Bertrande speaks movingly of the man she loves but avoids declaring his name. Hate intensifies between Catholics and Protestants. The judge is about to dismiss the case for lack of evidence when a last minute witness asks to be heard. Martin Guerre is home to denounce the impostor who has stolen his name. The judge returns his verdict which is that Arnaud's sentence is for Martin to decide and Bertrande is returned to her legal husband.
Artigat burns in the eruption of violence that follows. In the name of their friendship Martin frees the lovers, but, before they can escape, Arnaud is stabbed shielding Martin from Guillaume's knife and dies in Bertrande's arms.
Martin Guerre - a villager
Arnaud du Thil - a soldier
Betrande de Rols - Their bride
Guillaume - A villager in love with her
Benoît - a villager
Hortense, Celestine, Ernestine - wise villagers
Madame de Rols - Betrande's mother
Pierre Guerre - Martin's uncle
Catherine - a local Protestant
Musical Numbers: (Revised version)