La Favorite - synopsis
As monks begin preparing for worship, Superior Balthazar notices that Fernand can barely keep focused on his tasks so he asks him what is troubling him. Fernand confesses that he has fallen in love with a beautiful woman. Though he doesn’t know her name yet, he tells Balthazar that he would like to leave the monastery to search for her. Despite feeling upset with Fernand, Balthazar knows that one day he will return to the monastery, beaten by the world.
Some time later, Fernand finds the woman whom with he fell in love, Leonor. Even though they love each other, Fernand has yet to learn Leonor’s true identity. She arranges to meet with him on a small isle. He is blindfolded and escorted with a boat to the isle. Once there, one of Leonor’s companions, Inès, stresses to him that this meeting with Leonor must remain a secret. Leonor tells him that they will never be able to marry each other and they are never to see each other again. Leonor hands Fernand a letter which will help provide him with a better future. Before he can read the document, Leonor tells him goodbye and rushes out of the room.
Reading the document she has left him, Fernando finds a commission in the army — an opportunity for advancement.
Alphonse, the King of Castille, has just defeated the Moors and gained the city of Seville. Alphonse converses with his courtier, Don Gaspar, and makes a comment about being pleased with Fernand’s bravery. Alphonse dreams about divorcing his wife in order to marry Leonor, but he fears great ire from Balthazar, who in turn is backed by the Pope. Leonor enters the room with apparent concern. She is upset that she still remains the King’s mistress. Alphonse is troubled that her love for him is diminishing. Just then, Don Gaspar bursts into the room with a letter revealing that Leonor has another lover. When confronted, Leonor doesn’t deny the allegations. Before their discussion can progress, Balthazar enters the room demanding Alphonse to call off the divorce.
Alphonse has decided to award Fernand for his great bravery in the war. When Alphonse asks Fernand what he would like to receive as his reward, Fernand quickly replies that he would like to marry the woman who inspired his heroic efforts. Delighted, the King asks Fernand to reveal the identity of this woman. Fernand turns around and points to Leonor. At first, Alphonse is furious to learn that Fernand is his successful rival, but then changes his mind and tells Fernand he must marry Leonor within the next hour. Leonor quickly leaves the room, both happy and uneasy. She concludes that she must inform Fernand about her past so that he doesn’t marry her under false pretenses. She calls in Inès and gives her instructions to meet with Fernand. Before Inès is able to meet with him, she is captured and arrested. Leonor prepares for the wedding and meets with Fernand at the altar, unaware he has yet to be informed of her past.
After the ceremony is complete, Fernand finally learns of Leonor’s past. Feeling he was dishonored by the King, Fernand draws his sword and breaks it. He leaves Leonor and decides to return to the monastery under Balthazar’s guidance.
In the monastery the monks are praying. Meanwhile, Fernand prepares himself to rejoin his former religious life. Leonor enters the monastery and faints at the foot of the cross. She is exhausted and heartbroken. The monks tend to her. She approaches Fernand, but he hotly rejects her offers. She begs for his forgiveness and compassion. Finally, moved by her love and sincerity, he is willing to give himself to her again, but it is too late, Léonor collapses once more and dies in his arms.