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  • Cyrano De Bergerac
  • Written by Edmond Rostand
  • Format: Paperback | ISBN: 9780553213607
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Cyrano De Bergerac

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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

This is Edmond Rostand's immortal play in which chivalry and wit, bravery and love are forever captured in the timeless spirit of romance. Set in Louis XIII's reign, it is the moving and exciting drama of one of the finest swordsmen in France, gallant soldier, brilliant wit, tragic poet-lover with the face of a clown. Rostand's extraordinary lyric powers gave birth to a universal hero--Cyrano De Bergerac--and ensured his own reputation as author of one of the best-loved plays in the literature of the stage. This translation, by the American poet Brian Hooker, is nearly as famous as the original play itself, and is generally considered to be one of the finest English verse translations ever written.

Excerpt

THE FIRST ACT



A Performance at the Hotel de Bourgogne



The Hall of the Hotel de Bourgogne in 1640. A sort of Tennis Court, arranged and decorated for Theatrical productions.

The Hall is a long rectangle; we see it diagonally, in such a way that one side of it forms the back scene, which begins at the First Entrance on the Right and runs up to the Last Entrance on the Left, where it makes a right angle with the Stage which is seen obliquely.

This Stage is provided on either hand with benches placed along the wings. The curtain is formed by two lengths of Tapestry which can be drawn apart. Above a Harlequin cloak, the Royal Arms. Broad steps lead from the Stage down to the floor of the Hall. On either side of these steps, a place for the Musicians. A row of candles serving as footlights. Two tiers of Galleries along the side of the Hall; the upper one divided into boxes.

There are no seats upon the Floor, which is the actual stage of our theatre; but toward the back of the Hall, on the right, a few benches are arranged; and underneath a stairway on the extreme right, which leads up to the galleries, and of which only the lower portion is visible, there is a sort of Sideboard, decorated with little tapers, vases of flowers, bottles and glasses, plates of cake, et cetera.

Farther along, toward the centre of our stage is the Entrance to the Hall; a great double door which opens only slightly to admit the Audience. On one of the panels of this door, as also in other places about the Hall, and in particular just over the Sideboard, are Playbills in red, upon which we may read the title La Clorise.

As the Curtain Rises, the Hall is dimly lighted and still empty. The Chandeliers are lowered to the floor, in the middle of the Hall, ready for lighting.



(Sound of voices outside the door. Then a Cavalier enters abruptly.)



THE PORTER

(Follows him)

Halloa there!--Fifteen sols!

THE CAVALIER

I enter free.

THE PORTER

Why?

THE CAVALIER

Soldier of the Household of the King!

THE PORTER

(Turns to another Cavalier who has just entered)

You?

SECOND CAVALIER

I pay nothing.

THE PORTER

Why not?

SECOND CAVALIER

Musketeer!

FIRST CAVALIER

(To the Second)

The play begins at two. Plenty of time--

And here's the whole floor empty. Shall we try

Our exercise?

(They fence with the foils which they have brought)

A LACKEY

(Enters)

--Pst! . . . Flanquin! . . .

ANOTHER

(Already on stage)

What, Champagne?

FIRST LACKEY

(Showing games which he takes out of his doublet)

Cards. Dice. Come on.

(Sits on the floor)

SECOND LACKEY

(Same action)

Come on, old cock!

FIRST LACKEY

(Takes from his pocket a bit of candle, lights it, sets it on the floor)

I have stolen

A little of my master's fire.

A GUARDSMAN

(To a flower girl who comes forward)

How sweet

Of you, to come before they light the hall!

(Puts his arm around her)

FIRST CAVALIER

(Receives a thrust of the foil)

A hit!

SECOND LACKEY

A club!

THE GUARDSMAN

(Pursuing the girl)

A kiss!

THE FLOWER GIRL

(Pushing away from him)

They'll see us!--

THE GUARDSMAN

(Draws her into a dark corner)

No danger!

A MAN

(Sits on the floor, together with several others who have brought packages of food)

When we come early, we have time to eat.

A CITIZEN

(Escorting his son, a boy of sixteen)

Sit here, my son.

FIRST LACKEY

Mark the Ace!

ANOTHER MAN

(Draws a bottle from under his cloak and sits down with the others)

Here's the spot

For a jolly old sot to suck his Burgundy--

(Drinks)

Here--in the house of the Burgundians!

THE CITIZEN

(To his son)

Would you not think you were in some den of vice?

(Points with his cane at the drunkard)

Drunkards--

(In stepping back, one of the cavaliers trips him up)

Bullies!--

(He falls between the lackeys)

Gamblers!--

THE GUARDSMAN

(Behind him as he rises, still struggling with the Flower Girl)

One kiss--

THE CITIZEN

Good God!--

(Draws his son quickly away)

Here!--And to think, my son, that in this hall

They play Rotrou!

THE BOY

Yes father--and Corneille!

THE PAGES

(Dance in, holding hands and singing:)

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-lere . . .

THE PORTER

You pages there--no nonsense!

FIRST PAGE

(With wounded dignity)

Oh, monsieur!

Really! How could you?

(To the Second, the moment the Porter turns his back)

Pst!--a bit of string?

SECOND PAGE

(Shows fishline with hook)

Yes--and a hook.

FIRST PAGE

Up in the gallery,

And fish for wigs!

A CUT-PURSE

(Gathers around him several evil-looking young fellows)

Now then, you picaroons,

Perk up, and hear me mutter. Here's your bout--

Bustle around some cull, and bite his bung . . .

SECOND PAGE

(Calls to other pages already in the gallery)

Hey! Brought your pea-shooters?

THIRD PAGE

(From above)

And our peas, too!

(Blows, and showers them with peas)

THE BOY

What is the play this afternoon?

THE CITIZEN

"Clorise."

THE BOY

Who wrote that?

THE CITIZEN

Balthasar Baro. What a play! . . .

(He takes the Boy's arm and leads him upstage)

THE CUT-PURSE

(To his pupils)

Lace now, on those long sleeves, you cut it off--

(Gesture with thumb and finger, as if using scissors)

A SPECTATOR

(To another, pointing upward toward the gallery)

Ah, Le Cid!--Yes, the first night, I sat there--

THE CUT-PURSE

Watches--

(Gesture as of picking a pocket)

THE CITIZEN

(Coming down with his son)

Great actors we shall see to-day--

THE CUT-PURSE

Handkerchiefs--

(Gesture of holding the pocket with left hand, and drawing out handkerchief with right)

THE CITIZEN

Montfleury--

A VOICE

(In the gallery)

Lights! Light the lights!

THE CITIZEN

Bellerose, l'eapy, Beaupre, Jodelet--

A PAGE

(On the floor)

Here comes the orange girl.

THE ORANGE GIRL

Oranges, milk,

Raspberry syrup, lemonade--

(Noise at the door)

A FALSETTO VOICE

(Outside)

Make way,

Brutes!

FIRST LACKEY

What, the Marquis--on the floor?

(The Marquis enter in a little group.)

SECOND LACKEY

Not long--

Only a few moments; they'll go and sit

On the stage presently.

FIRST MARQUIS

(Seeing the hall half empty)

How now! We enter

Like trades people--no crowding, no disturbance!--

No treading on the toes of citizens?

Oh fie! Oh fie!

(He encounters two gentlemen who have already arrived)

Cuigy! Brissaille!

(Great embracings)

CUIGY

The faithful!

(Looks around him.)

We are here before the candles.

FIRST MARQUIS

Ah, be still!

You put me in a temper.

SECOND MARQUIS

Console yourself,

Marquis--The lamplighter!

THE CROWD

(Applauding the appearance of the lamplighter)

Ah! . . .

(A group gathers around the chandelier while he lights it. A few people have already taken their place in the gallery. Ligniere enters the hall, arm in arm with Christian de Neuvillette. Ligniere is a slightly disheveled figure, dissipated and yet distinguished looking. Christian, elegantly but rather unfashionably dressed, appears preoccupied and keeps looking up at the boxes.)

CUIGY

Ligniere!--

BRISSAILLE

(Laughing)

Still sober--at this hour?

LIGNIERE

(To Christian)

May I present you?

(Christian assents.)

Baron Christian de Neuvillette.

(They salute.)

THE CROWD

(Applauding as the lighted chandelier is hoisted into place)

Ah!--

CUIGY

(Aside to Brissaille, looking at Christian)

Rather

A fine head, is it not? The profile . . .

FIRST MARQUIS

(Who has overheard)

Peuh!

LIGNIERE

(Presenting them to Christian)

Messieurs de Cuigy . . . de Brissaille . . .

CHRISTIAN

(Bows)

Enchanted!

FIRST MARQUIS

(To the second)

He is not ill-looking; possibly a shade

Behind the fashion.

LIGNIERE

(To Cuigy)

Monsieur is recently

From the Touraine.

CHRISTIAN

Yes, I have been in Paris

Two or three weeks only. I join the Guards

To-morrow.

FIRST MARQUIS

(Watching the people who come into the boxes)

Look--Madame la Presidente

Aubry!

THE ORANGE GIRL

Oranges, milk--

THE VIOLINS

(Tuning up)

La . . . la . . .

CUIGY

(To Christian, calling his attention to the increasing crowd)

We have

An audience to-day!

CHRISTIAN

A brilliant one.

FIRST MARQUIS

Oh yes, all our own people--the gay world!

(They name the ladies who enter the boxes elaborately dressed. Bows and smiles are exchanged.)

SECOND MARQUIS

Madame de Guemene . . .

CUIGY

De Bois-Dauphin . . .

FIRST MARQUIS

Whom we adore--

BRISSAILLE

Madame de Chavigny . . .

SECOND MARQUIS

Who plays with all our hearts--

LIGNIERE

Why, there's Corneille

Returned from Rouen!

THE BOY

(To his father)

Are the Academy

All here?

THE CITIZEN

I see some of them . . . there's Boudu--

Boissat--Cureau--Porcheres--Colomby--

Bourzeys--Bourdon--Arbaut--

Ah, those great names,

Never to be forgotten!

FIRST MARQUIS

Look--at last!

Our Intellectuals! Barthenoide,

Urimedonte, Felixerie . . .

SECOND MARQUIS

(Languishing)

Sweet heaven!

How exquisite their surnames are! Marquis,

You know them all?

FIRST MARQUIS

I know them all, Marquis!

LIGNIERE

(Draws Christian aside)

My dear boy, I came here to serve you--Well,

But where's the lady? I'll be going.

CHRISTIAN

Not yet--

A little longer! She is always here.

Please! I must find some way of meeting her.

I am dying of love! And you--you know

Everyone, the whole court and the whole town,

And put them all into your songs--at least

You can tell me her name!

THE FIRST VIOLIN

(Raps on his desk with his bow)

Pst--Gentlemen!

(Raises his bow)

THE ORANGE GIRL

Macaroons, lemonade--

CHRISTIAN

Then she may be

One of those ?sthetes . . . Intellectuals,

You call them--How can I talk to a woman

In that style? I have no wit. This fine manner

Of speaking and of writing nowadays--

Not for me! I am a soldier--and afraid.

That's her box, on the right--the empty one.

LIGNIERE

(Starts for the door)

I am going.

CHRISTIAN

(Restrains him)

No--wait!

LIGNIERE

Not I. There's a tavern

Not far away--and I am dying of thirst.

THE ORANGE GIRL

(Passes with her tray)

Orange juice?

LIGNIERE

No!

THE ORANGE GIRL

Milk?

LIGNIERE

Pouah!

THE ORANGE GIRL

Muscatel?

LIGNIERE

Here! Stop!

(To Christian)

I'll stay a little.

(To the Girl)

Let me see

Your Muscatel.

(He sits down by the sideboard. The Girl pours out wine for him.)

VOICES

(In the crowd about the door, upon the entrance of a spruce little man, rather fat, with a beaming smile)

Ragueneau!

LIGNIERE

(To Christian)

Ragueneau,

Poet and pastry-cook--a character!

RAGUENEAU

(Dressed like a confectioner in his Sunday clothes, advances quickly to Ligniere)

Sir, have you seen Monsieur de Cyrano?

LIGNIERE

(Presents him to Christian)

Permit me . . . Ragueneau, confectioner,

The chief support of modern poetry.

RAGUENEAU

(Bridling)

Oh--too much honor!

LIGNIERE

Patron of the Arts--

M?cenas! Yes, you are--

RAGUENEAU

Undoubtedly,

The poets gather round my hearth.

LIGNIERE

On credit--

Himself a poet--

RAGUENEAU

So they say--

LIGNIERE

Maintains

The Muses.

RAGUENEAU

It is true that for an ode--

LIGNIERE

You give a tart--

RAGUENEAU

A tartlet--

LIGNIERE

Modesty!

And for a triolet you give--

RAGUENEAU

Plain bread.

LIGNIERE

(Severely)

Bread and milk! And you love the theatre?

RAGUENEAU

I adore it!

LIGNIERE

Well, pastry pays for all.

Your place to-day now--Come, between ourselves,

What did it cost you?

RAGUENEAU

Four pies; fourteen cakes.

(Looking about)

But--Cyrano not here? Astonishing!

LIGNIERE

Why so?

RAGUENEAU

Why--Montfleury plays!

LIGNIERE

Yes, I hear

That hippopotamus assumes the role

Of Phedon. What is that to Cyrano?

RAGUENEAU

Have you not heard? Monsieur de Bergerac

So hates Montfleury, he has forbidden him

For three weeks to appear upon the stage.

LIGNIERE

(Who is, by this time, at his fourth glass)

Well?

RAGUENEAU

Montfleury plays!--

CUIGY

(Strolls over to them)

Yes--what then?

RAGUENEAU

Ah! That

Is what I came to see.

FIRST MARQUIS

This Cyrano--

Who is he?

CUIGY

Oh, he is the lad with the long sword.

SECOND MARQUIS

Noble?

CUIGY

Sufficiently; he is in the Guards.

(Points to a gentleman who comes and goes about the hall as though seeking for someone)

His friend Le Bret can tell you more.

(Calls to him)

Le Bret!

(Le Bret comes down to them)

Looking for Bergerac?

LE BRET

Yes. And for trouble.

CUIGY

Is he not an extraordinary man?

LE BRET

The best friend and the bravest soul alive!

RAGUENEAU

Poet--

CUIGY

Swordsman--

LE BRET

Musician--

BRISSAILLE

Philosopher--

LIGNIERE

Such a remarkable appearance, too!

RAGUENEAU

Truly, I should not look to find his portrait

By the grave hand of Philippe de Champagne.

He might have been a model for Callot--

One of those wild swashbucklers in a masque--

Hat with three plumes, and doublet with six points--

His cloak behind him over his long sword

Cocked, like the tail of strutting Chanticleer--

Prouder than all the swaggering Tamburlaines

Hatched out of Gascony. And to complete

This Punchinello figure--such a nose!--

My lords, there is no such nose as that nose--

You cannot look upon it without crying: "Oh, no,

Impossible! Exaggerated!" Then

You smile, and say: "Of course--I might have known;

Presently he will take it off." But that

Monsieur de Bergerac will never do.

LIGNIERE

(Grimly)

He keeps it--and God help the man who smiles!

RAGUENEAU

His sword is one half of the shears of Fate!

FIRST MARQUIS

(Shrugs)

He will not come.

RAGUENEAU

Will he not? Sir, I'll lay you

A pullet ^ la Ragueneau!

FIRST MARQUIS

(Laughing)

Done!

(Murmurs of admiration; Roxane has just appeared in her box. She sits at the front of the box, and her Duenna takes a seat toward the rear. Christian, busy paying the Orange Girl, does not see her at first.)

SECOND MARQUIS

(With little excited cries)

Ah!

Oh! Oh! Sweet sirs, look yonder! Is she not

Frightfully ravishing?

FIRST MARQUIS

Bloom of the peach--

Blush of the strawberry--

SECOND MARQUIS

So fresh--so cool,

That our hearts, grown all warm with loving her,

May catch their death of cold!

CHRISTIAN

(Looks up, sees Roxane, and seizes Ligniere by the arm.)

There! Quick--up there--

In the box! Look!--

LIGNIERE

(Coolly)

Herself?

CHRISTIAN

Quickly--Her name?

LIGNIERE

(Sipping his wine, and speaking between sips)

Madeleine Robin, called Roxane . . . refined . . .

Intellectual . . .

CHRISTIAN

Ah!--

LIGNIERE

Unmarried . . .

CHRISTIAN

Oh!--

LIGNIERE

No title . . . rich enough . . . an orphan . . . cousin

To Cyrano . . . of whom we spoke just now . . .

(At this point, a very distinguished looking gentleman, the Cordon Bleu around his neck, enters the box, and stands a moment talking with Roxane.)

CHRISTIAN

(Starts)

And the man? . . .

LIGNIERE

(Beginning to feel his wine a little; cocks his eye at them.)

Oho! That man? . . . Comte de Guiche . . .

In love with her . . . married himself, however,

To the niece of the Cardinal--Richelieu . . .

Wishes Roxane, therefore, to marry one
Edmond Rostand

About Edmond Rostand

Edmond Rostand - Cyrano De Bergerac
Edmond Rostand was born in Marseilles in 1868 and died in 1918. His thirty-year literary career is marked primarily by one astronomical success and a number of plays of lesser note. Early on, Edmond displayed an interest in marionette theater and poetry. While attending the College Stanislas in Paris, Rostand studied French literature, history, and philosophy. He followed his own inclination and deviated from the course his father had designed for him as a lawyer, although he did finally earn a legal degree and gain admission to the bar. His first poetry appeared in the small academy review Mireille. In 1888, his LeGantRouge was produced and, in 1890, Rostand published his first book of poetry, LesMusardises. His play LesRomanesques was produced in 1894, followed a year later by LaPrincessLointaine. The playwright's name and influence spread. Rostand's fame peaked in 1898 with the first production of CyranodeBergerac, a five-act verse drama. The play was important to the drama of its time for its romantic nature, a departure from the realistic conventions then in vogue. It was an enormous success. After his next success, L'Aiglon (1900), ten years followed before Rostand completed another play. He spent the remaining years of his life in semiretirement, and died in 1918.?

  • Cyrano De Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
  • November 01, 1950
  • Fiction - Classics
  • Bantam Classics
  • $4.95
  • 9780553213607

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