Is Cyrano de Bergerac the ultimate French character?
In december 1897, a brand-new play by author Edmond de Rostand was first shown to an audience at the “Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin”.
The name of the play is also the name of its main character: Cyrano de Bergerac. Until today, he still represents the essence of what we would call “L’esprit français”.
French courses in France are not just about learning the language, but also to get a glance of what this French spirit is all about.
Cyrano de Bergerac was not a character invented by Rostand, he actually existed, and he inspired the author. Cyrano was a French libertine writer from the 17th century, and the play that he gave his name to came into existence in a very specific moment in France.
Literature was largely dominated by “realism”, represented by the books of Emile Zola, but not only.
When the play by Edmond Rostand appeared on stage for the first time, many critics saw it as a renewal of French romanticism.
In other words, Cyrano de Bergerac is a play about a real libertine character in a romantic play, that talks about a love triangle in which Cyrano gives his talent to another man to seduce the woman they both cherish.
How could anything be more French than this? The romance, the tragedy, the flamboyance of a character who is ready to sacrifice his own desire explain the immediate success the play had in 1897.
Since then, it has never stopped and has been adapted to the big screen 9 times, the first film being released in 1900. One of those versions being the movie “Roxanne” with Steve Martin.
Cyrano de Bergerac is still today the play that is the most played in theaters in France, confirming the talent of Edmond Rostand and the attachment the audience has to Cyrano.