L’Arlésienne was a short story by Alphonse Daudet, included in his 1869 collection “Letters From My Windmill,” which depicts life in Southern France. In the story, Jan, a young man from the village, has fallen in love with a woman from the larger, coastal town of Arles (near Marseille). More cosmopolitan (perhaps), she has had other lovers, and the townspeople disapprove - he is forbidden to see her. (So is the audience - she never appears in the play!) Heartbroken, Jan commits suicide, a very common plot point in the Romantic era, with its penchant for tragic romantics. Bizet, himself, was to die at 36.
From the 27 pieces of incidental music he wrote for the play form of L’Arlésienne, Bizet arranged an orchestral suite (Suite No. 1.) After Bizet’s death, his friend Ernest Guiraud arranged a “Suite No. 2 from L’Arlésienne.” Guiraud actually took one movement, the Menuetto, from another work, Bizet’s opera “The Fair Maid of Perth.”