Edmond Rostand was born at Marseilles in 1868. Rostand is undoubtedly one of the most brilliant dramatic poets of modern times. “Les Romanesques”—“The Romancers”—was performed for the first time in Paris, at the Comedie Francaise, in 1894, and achieved considerable success. Its delicacy and charm revealed the true poet, and the deftness with which the plot was handled left little doubt as to the author’s ability to construct an interesting and moving drama. But not until the production of “Cyrano de Bergerac” in 1897 did Rostand become known to the world at large. “L’Aiglon” (1900) was something of a disappointment after the brilliant “Cyrano.” Ten years later came “Chantecler,” the poet’s deepest and in many ways most masterly play.
“The Romancers” is best played in the romantic atmosphere of the late Eighteenth century; the costumes should be Louis XVI. The stage-directions are sufficiently detailed. ]]
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[Transcriber’s note: “The Romancers” is the basis for the plot of the 1960 musical “The Fantasticks,” with music by Harvey Schmidt, book and lyrics by Tom Jones.]
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Persons in the Play
Bergamin (Percinet’s father)
Pasquinot (Sylvette’s father)
Blaise (A gardener)
A wall (Not a speaking part)
Swordsmen, musicians, negroes, torch-bearers, a notary, four
witnesses, and other supernumeraries.
The action takes place anywhere, provided the costumes are pretty.
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Scene: The stage is divided by an old wall, covered with vines and flowers. At the right, a corner of BERGAMIN’s private park; at the left, a corner of PASQUINOT’s. On each side of the wall, and against it, is a rustic bench. As the curtain rises, Percinet is seated on the top of the wall. On his knee is a book, out of which he is reading to Sylvette, who stands attentively listening on the bench which is on the other side of the wall.
Sylvette. Monsieur Percinet, how divinely beautiful!
Percinet. Is it not? Listen to what
Romeo answers: [Reading]
“It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
No nightingale: look, love, what envious streaks
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east.
Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops:
I must begone”—
Sylvette. [Interrupts him, as she listens.] Sh!
Percinet. [Listens a moment, then] No one! And, Mademoiselle, you must not take fright like a startled bird. Hear the immortal lovers: