Edmond Rostand

Last updated

Edmond Rostand
Edmond Rostand en habit vert 01.jpg
Rostand in the uniform of the Académie française, 1905
BornEdmond Eugène Alexis Rostand
(1868-04-01)1 April 1868
Marseille, France
Died2 December 1918(1918-12-02) (aged 50)
Paris, France
OccupationPoet, playwright
NationalityFrench
GenreNeo Romanticism
Spouse Rosemonde Gérard
Children Jean Rostand
Maurice Rostand

Edmond Eugène Alexis Rostand ( UK: /ˈrɒstɒ̃/ , [1] US: /rɔːˈstɒ̃,ˈrɒstænd/ , [2] [3] French:  [ɛdmɔ̃ ʁɔstɑ̃] ; 1 April 1868 – 2 December 1918) was a French poet and dramatist. He is associated with neo-romanticism and is known best for his 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac . Rostand's romantic plays contrasted with the naturalistic theatre popular during the late nineteenth century. Another of Rostand's works, Les Romanesques (1894), was adapted to the 1960 musical comedy The Fantasticks .

Contents

Early life

Rostand was born in Marseille, France, into a wealthy and cultured Provençal family. His father was an economist, a poet who translated and edited the works of Catullus, [4] and a member of the Marseille Academy and the Institut de France. Rostand studied literature, history, and philosophy at the Collège Stanislas in Paris, France.

Career

When Rostand was twenty years old, his first play, a one-act comedy, Le Gant rouge, was performed at the Cluny Theatre, 24 August 1888, but it was almost unnoticed. [4]

In 1890, Rostand published a volume of poems called Les Musardises. [5] The same year he offered a one-act Pierrot play in verse to the director of the Théâtre François. This gave him the opportunity to write for the state theatre a three-act play, also in verse, as are all Rostand's plays. He considered himself a poet, whether writing plays or poetry.

The resulting play, Les Romanesque's, was produced at the Théâtre François on 21 May 1894. It was a great success and was the start of his career as a dramatist. This play would be adapted in 1960 by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt into the long-running American musical The Fantasticks .

Rostand's next play was written for Sarah Bernhardt. La Princesse Lointaine was based on the story of the 12th-century troubadour Jaufre Rudel and his love for Hodierna of Jerusalem (who is the archetypal princesse lointaine character). This idealistic play opened on 5 April 1895, at the Théâtre de la Renaissance. The part of Melisandre (based on Hodierna's daughter Melisende of Tripoli) was created by Sarah Bernhardt [6] but the play was not particularly successful. When Bernhardt performed it in London later the same year, it received a bad review from George Bernard Shaw but this was not surprising considering Shaw's bias for realism. [4] Rambaldo di Vaqueiras: I Monferrato, 1922 1922 verse drama by Nino Berrini (it) is based on La Princesse Lointaine.

Bernhardt, undeterred, asked Rostand to write another play for her. She created the role of Photine in La Samaritaine (Theatre de la Renaissance, 14 April 1897), a Biblical drama in three scenes adapted from the gospel story of the woman of Samaria. [6] This play was more successful and became part of Sarah Bernhardt's repertoire. Rostand felt satisfied that he had proven to the public that he was something more than a writer of comedies. [4]

Edmond Rostand, aged 29, at the time of the first performance of Cyrano, 1898 Edmond Rostand 001.jpg
Edmond Rostand, aged 29, at the time of the first performance of Cyrano, 1898

The production of his heroic comedy Cyrano de Bergerac (28 December 1897, Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin), with Benoît-Constant Coquelin in the title role, was a triumph. [6] The first production lasted for more than 300 consecutive nights. [4] No such enthusiasm for a drama in verse had been known since the time of Hugo's Hernani . The play was quickly translated into English, German, Russian and other European languages. [6] Cyrano de Bergerac had been a boyhood hero of Rostand, who loved his idealism and courage. He had also thoroughly researched French 17th-century history.

The play L'Aiglon was written for Sarah Bernhardt to perform during the Exposition Universelle in Paris. A patriotic subject was required, and Rostand chose a subject from Napoleonic history, suggested probably by Henri Welschinger's Roi de Rome, 1811–32 (1897), which contained much new information about the unhappy life of the Duke of Reichstadt, son of Napoleon I, and Marie Louise, surveilled by agents of Metternich at the Schönbrunn Palace. L'Aiglon, a verse drama in six acts, was produced (15 March 1900) by Sarah Bernhardt at her own theatre, she herself performing the trouser role of the Duke of Reichstadt. [7] [6]

In 1902, Rostand became the youngest writer ever to be elected to the Académie française. He relocated to Cambo-les-bains, in the Basque Pyrenees, in 1903 for health reasons. Here he built himself a villa, Arnaga (now a Rostand museum) and worked on his next play, one for Constant Coquelin this time, Chantecler . [5] Produced in February 1910, it was awaited with an interest, enhanced by considerable delay in the production, which affected the enthusiasm of its reception. Nor did the Parisian audience enjoy the caricature of salon life in the third act. Since Constant Coquelin had died during rehearsals, Lucien Guitry was in the title role and Mme. Simone played the part of the pheasant. [6] Chantecler is a cockerel and the characters are birds and animals. "Chantecler" is the great play of Rostand's maturity, expressing Rostand's own deepest feelings as a poet and idealist.

The Romancers one act play is one of Edmond Rostand's most famous plays. This play is found to be read for study in the courses of many universities of the world. [8]

When he died prematurely at fifty years old, Rostand was still writing plays. "La Dernière Nuit de Don Juan" was performed posthumously in 1922. There were two unfinished and unpublished plays – Yorick and Les Petites Manies. [9]

Personal life

Rostand by Guth in 1901 Edmond Rostand Vanity Fair 1901-06-20.jpg
Rostand by Guth in 1901

Rostand was married to the poet and playwright Rosemonde-Étienette Gérard who, in 1890, published Les Pipeaux: a volume of verse commended by the Academy. [6] The couple had two sons, Jean and Maurice.

During the 1900s, Rostand came to live in the Villa Arnaga in Cambo-les-Bains in the French Basque Country, seeking a cure for his pleurisy. The house is now a heritage site and a museum of Rostand's life and Basque architecture and crafts. Rostand died in 1918, a victim of the flu pandemic, and is buried in the Cimetière de Marseille. [7]

Works

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>LAiglon</i>

L'Aiglon is a play in six acts by Edmond Rostand based on the life of Napoleon II, who was the son of Emperor Napoleon I and his second wife, Empress Marie Louise. The title of the play comes from a nickname for Napoleon II, the French word for "eaglet".

Benoît-Constant Coquelin

Benoît-Constant Coquelin, known as Coquelin aîné, was a French actor, "one of the greatest theatrical figures of the age."

<i>Cyrano de Bergerac</i> (play) Play by Edmond Rostand

Cyrano de Bergerac is a play written in 1897 by Edmond Rostand. There was a real Cyrano de Bergerac, and the play is a fictionalisation following the broad outlines of his life.

Cambo-les-Bains Commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Cambo-les-Bains is a town in the traditional Basque province of Labourd, now in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in south-western France on the south-western bank of the river Nive.

<i>Cyrano de Bergerac</i> (1950 film) 1950 film by Michael Gordon

Cyrano de Bergerac is a 1950 American adventure film based on the 1897 French Alexandrin verse drama Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. It uses poet Brian Hooker's 1923 English blank verse translation as the basis for its screenplay. The film was the first motion picture version in English of Rostand's play, though there were several earlier adaptations in different languages.

Théâtre de la Renaissance

The name Théâtre de la Renaissance has been used successively for three distinct Parisian theatre companies. The first two companies, which were short-lived enterprises in the 19th century, used the Salle Ventadour, now an office building on the Rue Méhul in the 2nd arrondissement.

Raimbaut de Vaqueiras

Raimbaut de Vaqueiras or Vaqueyras was a Provençal troubadour and, later in his life, knight. His life was spent mainly in Italian courts until 1203, when he joined the Fourth Crusade. His writings, particularly the so-called Epic Letter, form an important commentary on the politics of the Latin Empire in its earliest years. Vaqueiras's works include a multilingual poem, Eras quan vey verdeyar where he used French, Italian, Galician-Portuguese and Gascon, together with his own Provençal.

Maurice Rostand

Maurice Rostand was a French author, the son of the poet and dramatist Edmond Rostand and the poet Rosemonde Gérard, and brother of the biologist Jean Rostand.

Cyrano de Bergerac (1619–1655) was a French dramatist.

<i>Romeo and Juliet</i> (1900 film) 1900 film by Clément Maurice

Roméo et Juliette is a 1900 French film adaptation of the classic and famous William Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet.

Rosemonde Gérard French poet and playwright

Louise-Rose-Étiennette Gérard, known as Rosemonde Gérard was a French poet and playwright. She was the wife of Edmond Rostand, and was a granddaughter of Étienne Maurice Gérard, who was a Marshal and a Prime Minister of France.

Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin

The Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin is a venerable theatre and opera house at 18, Boulevard Saint-Martin in the 10th arrondissement of Paris.

<i>Chantecler</i> (play)

Chantecler is a verse play in four acts written by Edmond Rostand. The play is notable in that all the characters are farmyard animals including the main protagonist, a chanticleer, or rooster. The play centers on the theme of idealism and spiritual sincerity, as contrasted with cynicism and artificiality. Much of the play satirizes modernist artistic doctrines from Rostand's romanticist perspective.

<i>Cyrano</i> (Damrosch) Opera by Walter Damrosch, 1976

Cyrano is an opera in four acts composed by Walter Damrosch to an English language libretto by William James Henderson based on Edmond Rostand's 1897 play, Cyrano de Bergerac. It premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on February 27, 1913, with Pasquale Amato in the title role and Frances Alda as Roxane.

<i>Cyrano de Bergerac</i> (1946 film) 1946 film by Fernand Rivers

Cyrano de Bergerac is a 1946 French romantic comedy film directed by Fernand Rivers and starring Claude Dauphin, Ellen Bernsen and Pierre Bertin. It is based on the 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand.

Louis Péricaud

Louis Jean Péricaud was a 19th-century French stage actor, chansonnier, playwright, theatre historian and theatre director.

Roles played by Sarah Bernhardt

This is a list of the notable roles played by the French actress Sarah Bernhardt, including both stage roles and early motion pictures, with the year of the first performance. This list does not include one-time performances or revivals. Roles first performed by Bernhardt are noted as premieres.

<i>Ninette</i> (opera)

Ninette is an opéra comique in three acts, with music by Charles Lecocq and words by Charles Clairville Jr, Eugène Hubert, G. Lebeaut and Ch. de Trogoff. It was first performed at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens, Paris, on 28 February 1896.

Edmond de Bergerac is a French comedy play by Alexis Michalik. Inspired by Shakespeare in Love, the play is set in December 1897 and is about the playwright Edmond Rostand and the creation of his renowned play Cyrano de Bergerac.

Cyrano de Bergerac, Op. 45, subtitled A Romantic Opera, is an opera in three acts and an epilogue created in 1974 by Estonian composer Eino Tamberg. The libretto is by Jaan Kross and is based on the 1897 play of Edmond Rostand. The premiere was on 2 July 1976 in the Estonia Theatre in Talinn.

References

  1. "Rostand, Edmond". Lexico UK Dictionary. Oxford University Press . Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  2. "Rostand". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt . Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  3. "Rostand". Merriam-Webster Dictionary . Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 William Lyon Phelps (1921) Essays on Modern Dramatists, Macmillan, New York
  5. 1 2 Annual Register for the Year 1918 (1919) Longmans, Green and Company, London – New York
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Rostand, Edmond". Encyclopædia Britannica . 23 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 754.
  7. 1 2 "Feature: Edmond Rostand". Sydney Theatre Company. 1 November 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  8. "The Romancers by Edmond Rostand - Class 12 Mero Notice". Mero Notice. 23 February 2021. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  9. Contemporary Authors Online (2003) Gale, Detroit
  10. Edmond Rostand (1903) Les Romanesques: comédie en trois actes, en vers (Google eBook) (in French)
  11. Edmond Rostand (1915) The Romancers: Comedy in Three Acts, translated by Barrett H. Clark, Samuel French (Google eBook)
  12. Edmond Rostand (1909) La Princesse Lointaine, Charpentier et Fasquelle, Paris (Google eBook) (in French)
  13. Edmond Rostand (1921) The Princess Far-away: A Romantic Tragedy in Four Acts, translated by Anna Emilia Bagstad, R.G. Badger, Boston (Google eBook)

Sources