Cyrano de Bergerac is a French soldier and poet who appears in several works of fiction, most notably a play by Edmond Rostand. He is a fictionalized version of the actual historical figure Hector-Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac. Like his real-life counterpart he has an overly large nose.
In 1897, the French poet Edmond Rostand published a play, Cyrano de Bergerac, on the subject of Cyrano's life. This play, by far Rostand's most successful work, concentrates on Cyrano's love for the beautiful Roxane, whom he is obliged to woo on behalf of a more conventionally handsome but less articulate friend, Christian de Neuvillette.
The play has been adapted for cinema several times, most recently in 1990 with Gerard Depardieu in the title role. That 1990 version's dialogue is in French with subtitles written by Anthony Burgess in rhymed couplets, mirroring the form of the dialogue in the original play. The most famous film version in English is the 1950 film, with José Ferrer in the title role, a performance for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. In 1959, Hiroshi Inagaki wrote and directed a Japanese version, Aru kengo no shugai starring Toshiro Mifune. Ferrer reprised the role in the 1960 French film Cyrano et d'Artagnan, directed by Abel Gance, opposite Jean-Pierre Cassel as D'Artagnan. Much later, Cassel made a cameo appearance as Cyrano de Bergerac in The Return of the Musketeers: the character was depicted as fifty-something and attempting to travel to the Moon with the aid of a balloon.
Other film interpretations of Rostand include Roxanne, starring Steve Martin, and the romantic comedy The Truth About Cats & Dogs. Cyrano Fernández (2007) is a retelling from Venezuela, set in contemporary times, in which Cyrano is disfigured but lacks the large nose.
Geraldine McCaughrean rewrote the play as a novel entitled Cyrano, which was longlisted for the Carnegie Award in 2007. In 1936, Franco Alfano composed his opera, Cyrano de Bergerac, to a libretto based on the play. Most recently, David DiChiera rewrote the play as another opera entitled Cyrano, which was produced first by Michigan Opera Theater and then by the Opera Company of Philadelphia (February 2008).
The character of Cyrano also inspired a song, "Cyrano," by Italian performer Francesco Guccini about the hypocrisy, servitude to conventions, and superficialities of modern show business and political society. Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac is one of the main characters in Philip José Farmer's Riverworld novels.
A couple of characters in modern works are based on Cyrano, although not named as such. Robert Heinlein's Glory Road features a cameo appearance by such a figure. The Swordmaster in Alain Ayrole's and Jean-Luc Masbou's French comic book De cape et de crocs portrays a colorful gentleman living on the Moon, at ease either with a sword or with a sonnet, and using both to silence those foolish enough to mock his prominent nose!
In 1995, the award-winning Scottish novelist A. L. (Alison) Kennedy featured a newly-revived Cyrano in her novel 'So I am glad'. The heroine finds him entering her life where she is under stress as a radio 'voice'. We are left unsure whether Cyrano has returned to live with her as her lover for a time or is a figment of her imagination. In any case, she is engaged by the vitality of his character, his revisiting the events of his life and his unorthodoxy and adventures in modern Glasgow.
In 1998, James L. Carcioppolo wrote and published The Lost Sonnets of Cyrano de Bergerac. The book fictionalizes a dying Cyrano writing a sequence of sonnets in an attempt to come to terms with his conflicted life. It portrays a Cyrano very close to the historical personage without diminishing his love for freedom and individuality.