Edmond Rostand

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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
GenreNeo Romanticism
Spouse Rosemonde Gérard
Children Jean Rostand
Maurice Rostand

Edmond Eugène Alexis Rostand (French:  [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 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, was adapted to the musical comedy The Fantasticks .

Neo-romanticism literary movement

The term neo-romanticism is used to cover a variety of movements in philosophy, literature, music, painting, and architecture, as well as social movements, that exist after and incorporate elements from the era of Romanticism. It has been used with reference to late-19th-century composers such as Richard Wagner particularly by Carl Dahlhaus who describes his music as "a late flowering of romanticism in a positivist age". He regards it as synonymous with "the age of Wagner", from about 1850 until 1890—the start of the era of modernism, whose leading early representatives were Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler. It has been applied to writers, painters, and composers who rejected, abandoned, or opposed realism, naturalism, or avant-garde modernism at various points in time from about 1840 down to the present.

<i>Cyrano de Bergerac</i> (play) play written in 1897 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.

Naturalism is a literary movement beginning in the late nineteenth century, similar to literary realism in its rejection of Romanticism, but distinct in its embrace of determinism, detachment, scientific objectivism, and social commentary. The movement largely traces to the theories of French author Émile Zola.


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, [1] 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.

Marseille Second-largest city of France and prefecture of Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur

Marseille is the second-largest city of France. The main city of the historical province of Provence, it nowadays is the prefecture of the department of Bouches-du-Rhône and region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. It is located on France's south coast near the mouth of the Rhône river. The city covers an area of 241 km2 (93 sq mi) and had a population of 852,516 in 2012. Its metropolitan area, which extends over 3,173 km2 (1,225 sq mi) is the third-largest in France after Paris and Lyon, with a population of 1,831,500 as of 2010.

Provence Historical province in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Provence is a geographical region and historical province of southeastern France, which extends from the left bank of the lower Rhône River to the west to the Italian border to the east, and is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It largely corresponds with the modern administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, and includes the départements of Var, Bouches-du-Rhône, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and parts of Alpes-Maritimes and Vaucluse. The largest city of the region is Marseille.

Catullus Latin poet

Gaius Valerius Catullus was a Latin poet of the late Roman Republic who wrote chiefly in the neoteric style of poetry, which is about personal life rather than classical heroes. His surviving works are still read widely and continue to influence poetry and other forms of art.


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. [1]

Théâtre de Cluny former theatre in Paris, France

The théâtre de Cluny or théâtre Cluny was an entertainment venue located at 71 boulevard Saint-Germain in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, inaugurated in 1864 and closed in 1989.

In 1890, Rostand published a volume of poems called Les Musardises. [2] The same year he offered a one-act Pierrot play in verse to the director of the Théâtre Français. 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 Romanesques, was produced at the Théâtre Français 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 .

Tom Jones (writer) American lyricist and librettist of musical theatre

Tom Jones is an American lyricist and librettist.

Harvey Lester Schmidt was an American composer for musical theatre and illustrator. He was best known for composing the music for the longest running musical in history, The Fantasticks, which ran off-Broadway for 42 years from 1960 - 2002.

<i>The Fantasticks</i> musical

The Fantasticks is a 1960 musical with music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones. It tells an allegorical story, loosely based on the play The Romancers by Edmond Rostand, concerning two neighboring fathers who trick their children, Luisa and Matt, into falling in love by pretending to feud.

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 Mélissinde (based on Hodierna's daughter Melisende of Tripoli) was created by Sarah Bernhardt but the play was not particularly successful. When Berhardt 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. [1] Rambaldo di Vaqueiras: I Monferrato, 1922 1922 verse drama by Nino Berrini (it) is based on La Princesse Lointaine.

Jaufre Rudel Prince of Blaye and a troubadour

Jaufre Rudel was the Prince of Blaye and a troubadour of the early–mid 12th century, who probably died during the Second Crusade, in or after 1147. He is noted for developing the theme of "love from afar" in his songs.

Hodierna of Jerusalem Daughter of Baldwin II of Jerusalem, Countess of Tripoli (12th century)

Hodierna of Jerusalem was a Countess consort of Tripoli through her marriage to Raymond II of Tripoli, and regent of the County of Tripoli during the minority of her son from 1152 until 1155.

A princess lointaine or princesse lointaine, is a stock character of an unattainable loved figure. The name comes from the play La Princesse Lointaine by Edmond Rostand (1895), and draws on medieval romances. The romantic interest of many knights errant, she was usually a woman of much higher birth, often far distant from the knight, and usually wealthier than he was, beautiful, and of admirable character. Some knights had, indeed, fallen in love with the princess owing to hearing descriptions of her, without seeing her, as tales said Jaufré Rudel had fallen in love with Hodierna of Tripoli. Amour de loin is a term used in romances and their study.

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. 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. [1]

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. The first production lasted for more than 300 consecutive nights. [1] 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. 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. [3]

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 . [2] 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. 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.

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. [4]

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. 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. [3]


See also

Related Research Articles

Bergerac or de Bergerac may refer to:

<i>LAiglon</i> play written by Edmond Rostand

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 French actor

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

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There are several film adaptations of Edmond Rostand's play Cyrano de Bergerac:

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

Cyrano de Bergerac is a 1950 adventure drama romance film based on the 1897 French Alexandrine 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.

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Maurice Rostand French writer

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

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<i>Cyrano de Bergerac</i> (2008 film) 2008 television film directed by David Leveaux

Cyrano de Bergerac is a 2008 made-for-television adaptation of the 1897 play by Edmond Rostand, starring Kevin Kline as Cyrano, Jennifer Garner as his cousin Roxanne, and Daniel Sunjata as Christian. The production captures the 2007 Broadway revival, recorded before a live audience. The film was first broadcast on PBS' Great Performances on 7 January 2009.

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 theater

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<i>Chantecler</i> (play) 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.

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.

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<i>Ninette</i> (opera)

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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.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 William Lyon Phelps (1921) Essays on Modern Dramatists, Macmillan, New York
  2. 1 2 Annual Register for the Year 1918 (1919) Longmans, Green and Company, London – New York
  3. 1 2 "Feature: Edmond Rostand". Sydney Theatre Company. 1 November 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  4. Contemporary Authors Online (2003) Gale, Detroit
  5. Edmond Rostand (1903) Les Romanesques: comédie en trois actes, en vers (Google eBook) (in French)
  6. Edmond Rostand (1915) The Romancers: Comedy in Three Acts, translated by Barrett H. Clark, Samuel French (Google eBook)
  7. Edmond Rostand (1909) La Princesse Lointaine, Charpentier et Fasquelle, Paris (Google eBook) (in French)
  8. Edmond Rostand (1921) The Princess Far-away: A Romantic Tragedy in Four Acts, translated by Anna Emilia Bagstad, R.G. Badger, Boston (Google eBook)


https://www.cyranoandrostand.co.uk Web site set up by Genge Press, UK to celebrate Rostand's life and work