Classical ballet in three acts
It is the summer of 1792. We see three figures near the forest castle of the Marquis Costa de Beauregard, in the outskirts of Marseille. Gaspard and his children emerge from among the trees: the 18-year-old Jeanne and the 9-year-old Jacques are pulling a cart laden with firewood behind them when one of the cart’s axle breaks and a wheel falls off. The repairs are difficult, and the two children play instead of helping. We suddenly hear the hunting horn, signalling the return of the Marquis from his hunt. Gaspard and the children hurry to fix the cart, but they are unable to escape an encounter with the Marquis. In his wrath, de Beauregard upsets the cart and sets his soldiers on the poor peasant. The Marquis himself starts beating him until Jeanne intervenes, risking her safety for her father. The Marquis hears the revolutionary anthem “La Marseillaise” and hurries to seek shelter in his castle.
The crowd from Marseille, led by Philippe, is passing through the woods towards Paris to lend their support to the republicans. They stop to help Gaspard and Jeanne repair the cart axle and its wheels. Jacques enthusiastically waves the revolutionary flag. Meanwhile, the Marquis uses a secret door to escape from the castle. The peasants give an enthusiastic welcome to the people from Marseille. Philippe asks the peasants to join them, and Gaspard and his children head off to Paris in their company.
A ball at the Palace of Versailles. The ladies-in-waiting and the officers of the royal guard dance a Sarabande. At the end of the dance, the master of the ceremonies invites the guests to watch a performance by the court theatre: Mireille de Poitiers and Antoine Mistral perform a love scene depicting the story of Amor’s victims.
King Louis XVI and his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette arrive. The people raise their glasses to the monarchy. The Marquis de Beauregard enters, arriving straight from Marseille, with the tricolour and a ribbon in his hand with the text: “War on the palaces, peace to the cottages!” The Marquis reads a letter in which Louis XVI asks Prussia to send troops to France and help quell the revolution. The King is asked to sign the document. He stalls, but Marie Antoinette persuades him to sign his name. All those present salute the royal pair with their weapons.
After the monarch and the queen leave the ballroom, the merriment continues. The Marquis de Beauregard invites Mireille to dance; she has no other choice and must accept the invitation. The Marquis is uncouth and disrespectful, so Mireille attempts to escape from him. Antoine, making use of the lapse in the officers’ attention, reads the letter signed by the King. The Marquis returns to the ballroom, notices the paper in Antoine’s hand, realises Antoine knows everything, grabs a pistol, and shoots him. At the sound of the pistol shot, Mireille hurries back to the room and sees Antoine’s lifeless body and the paper in his hand. She reads it and understands why he had to die. She keeps the letter and hurries out of the palace.
At night, the commoners, among them Basques and Auvergnese, assemble on a square in Paris. The Parisians are happy to see the company of men arriving from Marseille. The Basques are good fighters, especially Thérèse, a passionate participant of the protests. Mireille de Poitiers arrives with the letter in her hand, which reveals the aristocracy's schemes. The people distribute weapons and head off in the direction of the royal palace, waving the tricolour and singing the revolutionary song.
The people storm the Palace. The Marquis de Beauregard and the Swiss Guard attempt to halt the attackers, but they infiltrate the Palace rooms. Philippe attacks the Marquis, who tries to shoot Philippe, but the crowd sweeps him away along with the guardsmen. Thérèse falls, the flag in her hand. The battle is over: the people have taken control of the Palace.
The people celebrate in the occupied royal palace. Mireille de Poitiers performs the Freedom pas de deux using the tricolour, symbolising the victory of the revolution. The actors then perform the allegorical Equality and Fraternity dances. Not only has the day of freedom arrived, so has the day Jeanne and Philippe get married.