A synopsis of the play by Edmond Rostand

This document was originally published in Minute History of the Drama. Alice B. Fort & Herbert S. Kates. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1935. p. 101.

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CYRANO DE BERGERAC was produced December 28, 1897, at the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin, Paris, with Constant Coquelin in the title rôle. The American premiere took place on October 3, 1898, in the Garden Theater, New York City, with Richard Mansfield as Cyrano.

CYRANO DE BERGERAC, guardsman and poet, is cursed with an enormous, bulbous, blossoming beak of a nose. To compensate for his fixed belief that no woman can ever love him on account of this affliction, he has made himself renowned in Paris for his personal bravery and the charm of his verse.

Cyrano's beautiful and wealthy cousin, Roxane, is much sought after. When, after a spectacular duel with a man who has been annoying her, Cyrano receives an urgent message from Roxanne, he is encouraged to believe she may actually love him. He finds, however, that she imagines herself in love with the handsome Christian de Neuvillette, newly enlisted brother guardsman in the company of Captain de Castel-Jaloux, and wants Cyrano to bring them together.

Putting aside his own love, Cyrano offers his powers of expression to Christian to assist in winning Roxane. Cyrano's eloquence in the many letters signed by Christian's name and the feeling in his voice as he declares his love under Roxane's balcony one dark night, bring about the marriage of Christian and Roxane just a few minutes before the company is ordered away to the siege of Arras.

Although their company is outnumbered, starving, and facing almost certain death, Roxane daily receives a letter signed with Christian's name. Irresistibly drawn by these letters, Roxane dares to drive through the enemies' lines to reach her Christian's side. When Christian sees the power that another's letters have had over Roxane he suddenly realizes that it is Cyrano and not himself that she really loves. He insists that Cyrano shall tell her the truth and leaves the scene. Before Cyrano has divulged the secret, however, Christian is carried in mortally wounded. When Cyrano whispers in his ear: "I have told her; it is you she loves," Christian dies happy.

After Christian's death Roxane goes to live in a convent and for some fifteen years it has been Cyrano's custom to call each Saturday afternoon on the stroke of three. In spite of innummerable enemies and abject poverty his gay invincible spirit shines forth at these meetings. Then one Saturday as he proceeds to his call, an enemy pushes a log from a window causing it to fall onto his head, breaking his skull. He hides his injury from Roxane, but begs to be allowed to read Christian's last letter which she carries always next to her heart. Only when in the gathering darkness he reads it through unfalteringly does Roxane realize that he was the writer and that through all the years it has been Cyrano that she loved.

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