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Scene Summaries With Notes
(To the Student Some editions of Cyrano de Bergerac have only acts, with no division for scenes. This guide of the play is based on an edition that recognizes the scenes within the acts.)
Act I A Performance at the Hotel de Bourgogne
Scene 1 Summary
Scene one opens in a famous French theater, where Balthazar Baro's play La Clorise, starring Montfleury, is to be performed. People are beginning to arrive for the performance. The patrons to arrive first include military men, tradesmen (burghers), and pages. Two lackeys come in and sit on the floor to gamble. Some cavaliers enter without buying a ticket. A gang of pickpockets arrives to do their dirty work. Gradually the aristocrats start arriving.
The conversations of the various people are intertwined. One of the aristocrats complains that he has come too early to disrupt the play. Others talk about the upcoming drama. The scene ends with the entrance of the satiric drunken poet Ligniére, who is arm in arm with Christian de Neuvillette.
Scene I introduces the importance of French theatre in the seventeenth century. It is the period of famous French dramatists, such as Corneille and Moliere. A variety of people come to the theater. They come for many different reasons to play cards, to flirt, and to pick pockets. A few of the patrons actually come to watch the play. The theater-goers are really a cross-section of seventeenth century French society, and not all of them are pleasant types. The patrons include pickpockets, who plan to prey on the wealthy, and cavaliers, who enter without paying for the performance.
In the general chatter of the crowd that arrives and waits for the play to begin, a mood of excitement is created. The conversations also give information about the upcoming performance. The play is Clorise, and it stars Montfleury. Other conversations are also heard, including a pickpocket's instructions to his men. The diversity of talk, especially that of the pickpocket and the aristocrat who regrets his on-time arrival, brings an element of humor to the opening scene.