The Info List - Victorien Sardou

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VICTORIEN SARDOU (5 September 1831 – 8 November 1908) was a French dramatist . He is best remembered today for his development, along with Eugène Scribe , of the well-made play . He also wrote several plays that were made into popular 19th-century operas such as _La Tosca _ (1887) on which Giacomo Puccini 's opera _ Tosca _ (1900) is based, and _ Fedora _ by Umberto Giordano , a work that popularized the fedora hat as well.


* 1 Early years * 2 Career * 3 Personal life and death * 4 Writing style * 5 Legacy

* 6 Bibliography

* 6.1 Stage works * 6.2 Books * 6.3 Adapted works

* 7 References * 8 Further reading * 9 External links


Commemorative plaque at the house in the 4th arrondissement, where Sardou was born

Victorien was born in rue Beautreillis, Paris on 5 September 1831. The Sardous were settled at Le Cannet , a village near Cannes , where they owned an estate, planted with olive trees. A night's frost killed all the trees and the family was ruined. Victorien's father, Antoine Léandre Sardou, came to Paris in search of employment. He was in succession a book-keeper at a commercial establishment, a professor of book-keeping, the head of a provincial school, then a private tutor and a schoolmaster in Paris, besides editing grammars, dictionaries and treatises on various subjects. With all these occupations, he hardly succeeded in making a livelihood, and when he retired to his native country, Victorien was left on his own resources. He had begun studying medicine, but had to desist for want of funds. He taught French to foreign pupils: he also gave lessons in Latin, history and mathematics to students, and wrote articles for cheap encyclopaedias.


At the same time he was trying to make headway in the literary world. His talents had been encouraged by an old _bas-bleu _, Mme de Bawl, who had published novels and enjoyed some reputation in the days of the Restoration , but she could do little for her protégé. Victorien Sardou made efforts to attract the attention of Mlle Rachel , and to win her support by submitting to her a drama, _La Reine Ulfra_, founded on an old Swedish chronicle. A play of his, _La Taverne des étudiants_, was produced at the Odéon on 1 April 1854, but met a stormy reception, owing to a rumour that the débutant had been instructed and commissioned by the government to insult the students. _La Taverne_ was withdrawn after five nights. Another drama by Sardou, _Bernard Palissy_, was accepted at the same theatre, but the arrangement was cancelled in consequence of a change in the management. A Canadian play, _Fleur de Liane_, would have been produced at the Ambigu but for the death of the manager. _Le Bossu_, which he wrote for Charles Albert Fechter , did not satisfy the actor; and when the play was successfully produced, the nominal authorship, by some unfortunate arrangement, had been transferred to other men. Sardou submitted to Adolphe Lemoine , manager of the Gymnase , a play entitled _ Paris à l'envers_, which contained the love scene, afterwards so famous, in _Nos Intimes_. Montigny thought fit to consult Eugène Scribe , who was revolted by the scene in question.

In 1857, Sardou felt the pangs of actual want, and his misfortunes culminated in an attack of typhoid fever. He was living in poverty and was dying in his garret , surrounded with his rejected manuscripts. A lady who was living in the same house unexpectedly came to his assistance. Her name was Mlle de Brécourt . She had theatrical connections, and was a special favourite of Mlle Déjazet . She nursed him, cured him, and, when he was well again, introduced him to her friend. Déjazet had just established the theatre named after her, and every show after _La Taverne_ was put on at this theatre. Fortune began to smile on the author.

It is true that _Candide_, the first play he wrote for Mlle Déjazet, was stopped by the censor, but _Les Premières Armes de Figaro_, _Monsieur Garat_, and _Les Prés Saint Gervais_, produced almost in succession, had a splendid run. _Garat_ and _Gervais_ were done at Theatre des Varlétés and in English at Criterion Theatre in London. _Les Pattes de mouche_ (1860, afterwards anglicized as _A Scrap of Paper_) obtained a similar success at the Gymnase. _ Sarah Bernhardt in the title role of Sardou's Théodora _ in 1884 A sketch of Sardou from 1899

_ Fédora _ (1882) was written expressly for Sarah Bernhardt , as were many of his later plays. This was later adapted by Umberto Giordano , and he made an opera entitled _Fedora_ . The play dealt with nihilism , which was coined from _Fathers and Sons _ by Ivan Turgenev . He struck a new vein by introducing a strong historic element in some of his dramatic romances. Thus he borrowed _Théodora _ (1884) from Byzantine annals (which was also adapted into an opera by Xavier Leroux ), _La Haine _ (1874) from Italian chronicles, _La Duchesse d'Athénes_ from the forgotten records of medieval Greece. _Patrie!_ (1869) is founded on the rising of the Dutch Geuzen at the end of the 16th century, and was made into a popular opera by Emile Paladihle in 1886. The scene of _La Sorcière_ (1904) was laid in Spain in the 16th century. The French Revolution furnished him three plays, _Les Merveilleuses_, _Thermidor _ (1891) and _Robespierre_ (1899). His play _Gismonda_ (1894) was adapted into an opera by Henry Février . The last named was written expressly for Sir Henry Irving , and produced at the Lyceum theatre in London, as was _Dante_ (1903). The imperial epoch was revived in _ La Tosca _ (1887). Sardou's grave in Marly-le-Roi

_Madame Sans-Gêne_ (1893) was written specifically for Gabrielle Réjane as the unreserved, good-hearted wife of Marshal Lefevre. It was translated into English and starred Irving and Ellen Terry at the Lyceum Theatre. Later plays were _La Pisie_ (1905) and _Le Drame des poisons_ (1907). In many of these plays, however, it was too obvious that a thin varnish of historic learning, acquired for the purpose, had been artificially laid on to cover modern thoughts and feelings. But a few — _Patrie!_ and _La Haine_ (1874), for instance — exhibit a true insight into the strong passions of past ages. _L'Affaire des Poisons_ (1907) was running at the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin and was very successful at the time of his death. The play involved the poisoning camarilla under Louis XIV of France . Toward the end of his life, Sardou made several recordings of himself reading passages from his works, including a scene from _Patrie!_. _ Caricature by Jean B. Guth, published in Vanity Fair _ (1891)


Sardou married his benefactress, Mlle de Brécourt, but eight years later he became a widower, and soon after the Revolution of 1870 was married a second time, to Mlle Soulié on 17 June 1872 to the daughter of the erudite Eudore Soulié , who for many years superintended the Musée de Versailles . He was elected to the Académie française in the room of the poet Joseph Autran (1813–1877), and took his seat on 22 May 1878. He lived at Château de Marly for some time.

He was the winner of the Légion d\'honneur in 1863 and was elected a member to the Académie française in 1877. Sardou died on 8 November 1908 in Paris. He had been ill for a long time. Official cause of death was from pulmonary congestion Sardou in 1901


Sardou modeled his work after Eugène Scribe . It was reported in Stephen Sadler Stanton's intro to _Camille and Other Plays_ that Sardou would read the first act of one of Scribe's plays, rewrite the rest, and then compare the two. One of his first goals when writing was to devise a central conflict followed by a powerful climax. From there, he would work backwards to establish the action leading up to it. He believed conflict was the key to drama.

He was ranked with the two undisputed leaders of dramatic art at that time, Augier and Dumas . He lacked the powerful humour, the eloquence and moral vigour of the former, the passionate conviction and pungent wit of the latter, but he was a master of clever and easy flowing dialogue. He adhered to Scribe's constructive methods, which combined the three old kinds of comedy —the comedy of character, of manners and of intrigue— with the _drame bourgeois_, and blended the heterogeneous elements into a compact body and living unity. He was no less dexterous in handling his materials than his master had been before him, and at the same time opened a wider field to social satire. He ridiculed the vulgar and selfish middle-class person in _Nos Intimes_ (1861: anglicized as _Peril_), the gay old bachelors in _Les Vieux Garçons_ (1865), the modern Tartufes in _Seraphine_ (1868), the rural element in _Nos Bons Villageois_ (1866), old-fashioned customs and antiquated political beliefs in _Les Ganaches_ (1862), the revolutionary spirit and those who thrive on it in _Rabagas_ (1872) and _Le Roi Carotte_ (1872), the then threatened divorce laws in _Divorçons_ (1880).


Irish playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw said of _La Tosca_: "Such an empty-headed ghost of a shocker...Oh, if it had but been an opera!". He also came up with the dismissive term "Sardoodledom" in a review of Sardou plays (_The Saturday Review_, 1 June 1895). Shaw believed that Sardou's contrived dramatic machinery was creaky and that his plays were empty of ideas. Sardou's advice to young playwrights on how to be successful was to "Torture the women!" as part of any play construction.

After producer Sir Squire Bancroft saw the dress rehearsal for _Fedora_, he said in his memoirs "In five minutes the audience was under a spell which did not once abate throughout the whole four acts. Never was treatment of a strange and dangerous subject more masterly, never was acting more superb than Sarah showed that day." William Winter said of _Fedora_ that "the distinguishing characteristic of this drama is carnality."

In New Orleans, during the period when much of its upper class still spoke French, Antoine Alciatore, founder of the famous old restaurant Antoine\'s , invented a dish called Eggs Sardou in honor of the playwright's visit to the city.



_ Poster for an 1897 production of Sardou's A Divorce Cure_

* _La Taverne des étudiants_ (1854) * _Les Premières Armes de Figaro (1859), with Emile Vanderbuch_ * _Les Gens nerveux_ (1859), with Théodore Barrière * _Les Pattes de mouche_ (_A Scrap of Paper_; 1860) * _Monsieur Garat_ (1860) * _Les Femmes fortes_ (1860) * _L'écureuil_ (1861) * _L'Homme aux pigeons_ (1861), as Jules Pélissié * _Onze Jours de siège_ (1861) * _Piccolino_ (1861), with Charles-Louis-Etienne Nuitter and music by Ernest Guiraud * _Nos Intimes!_ (1861) * _Chez Bonvalet_ (1861), as Jules Pélissié with Henri Lefebvre * _La Papillonne_ (1862) * _La Perle Noire_ (_The Black Pearl _; 1862) * _Les Prés Saint-Gervais_ (1862), with Philippe Gille and music by Charles Lecocq * _Les Ganaches_ (1862) * _Bataille d'amour_ (1863), with Karl Daclin and music by Auguste Vaucorbeil * _Les Diables noirs_ (1863) * _Le Dégel_ (1864) * _Don Quichotte_ (1864), rearranged by Sardou and Charles-Louis-Etienne Nuitter and music by Maurice Renaud * _Les Pommes du voisin_ (1864) * _Le Capitaine Henriot_ (1864), by Sardou and Gustave Vaez, music by François-Auguste Gevaert * _Les Vieux Garçons_ (1865) * _Les Ondines au Champagne_ (1865), as Jules Pélissié with Henri Lefebvre, music by Charles Lecocq * _La Famille Benoîton_ (1865) * _Les Cinq Francs d'un bourgeois de Paris_ (1866), with Dunan Mousseux and Jules Pélissié * _Nos Bons Villageois_ (1866) * _Maison neuve_ (1866) * _Séraphine_ (1868) * _Patrie!_ (_Fatherland_) (1869), later revised in 1886 with music by Emile Paladilhe * _Fernande_ (1870) * _ Le roi Carotte _ (1872), music by Jacques Offenbach * _Les Vieilles Filles_ (1872), with Charles de Courcy * _Andréa_ (1873) * _L’Oncle Sam_ (_Uncle Sam_; 1873) * _Les Merveilleuses_ (1873), music by Félix Hugo * _Le Magot_ (1874) * _La Haine _ (_Hatred_; 1874), music by Jacques Offenbach * _Ferréol_ (1875) * _L'Hôtel Godelot_ (1876), with Henri Crisafulli * _Dora_ (1877) * _Les Exilés_ (1877), with Gregorij Lubomirski and Eugène Nus * _Les Bourgeois de Pont-Arcy_ (1878) * _Les Noces de Fernande_ (1878), with Émile de Najac and music by Louis-Pierre Deffès * _Daniel Rochat_ (1880) * _Divorçons!_ (_Let’s Get a Divorce_; 1880), with Émile de Najac * _Odette_ (1881) * _ Fédora _ (1882) * _Théodora_ (1884), later revised in 1907 with Paul Ferrier and music by Xavier Leroux * _Georgette_ (1885) * _Le Crocodile_ (1886), with music by Jules Massenet * _ La Tosca _ (1887) * _Marquise_ (1889) * _Belle-Maman_ (1889), with Raymond Deslandes * _Cléopâtre_ (1890), with Émile Moreau and music by Xavier Leroux * _Thermidor _ (1891) * _Madame Sans-Gêne _ (1893), with Émile Moreau * _ Gismonda _ (1894) * _Marcelle_ (1895) * _Spiritisme_ (1897) * _Paméla_ (1898) * _Robespierre_ (1899) * _La Fille de Tabarin_ (1901), with Paul and music by Gabriel Pierné * _Les Barbares_ (1901), with Pierre-Barthélemy Gheusi , music by Camille Saint-Saëns * _Dante_ (1903), with Émile Moreau * _La Sorcière_ (_The Sorceress_; 1903) * _Fiorella_ (1905), with Pierre-Barthélemy Gheusi and music by Amherst Webber * _L'Espionne_ (1906) * _La Pisie_ (1906) * _L'Affaire des Poisons_ (1908), as Jules Pélissié


* _Rabàgas_ (1872) * _Daniel Rochet_ (1880)


* _Nos Intimes!_ (1862), translated by Horace Wigan into _Friends or Foes?_ * _La Papillonne_ (1864), translated by Augustin Daly into _Taming of a Butterfly_ * _Le Degel_ (1864), translated by Vincent Amcotts into _Adonis Vanquished_ * _Les Ganaches_ (1869) translated and adapted by Thomas William Robertson into _Progress_ * _Nos Intimes!_ (1872), translated by George March into _Our Friends_ * _Les Pres Saint-Gervais_ (1875), translated and adapted by Robert Reece * _Divorçons!_ (1882), translated into _Cyprienne_ * _Patrie!_ (1886) an opera by Emile Paladihle * _ Fedora _ (1898) an opera by Umberto Giordano * _Robespierre_, translated by Laurence Irving * _ Tosca _ (1900) an opera by Giacomo Puccini * _Les Merveilleuses_ (1907), adapted by Basil Hood as _The Merveilleuses _ * _Théodora_ (1907) an opera by Xavier Leroux * _Madame Sans-Gêne _ (1915) an opera by Umberto Giordano * _Gismonda_ (1919) an opera by Henry Février


* ^ "SARDOU, Victorien". _Who's Who_. Vol. 59. 1907. p. 1556. * ^ McCormick (1998, 964). * ^ Encarta Dictionary, Microsoft Encarta Premium Suite 2004. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ "VICTORIEN SARDOU, DRAMATIST, DEAD; Dean of French Playwrights and Creator of Bernhardt\'s Famous Roles Leaves No Memoirs. FIRST PLAY WAS HISSED His Last, "L\'Affaire des Poisons," He Saw Produced at 75 -- Still Running to Crowded Houses". _The New York Times_. 9 November 1908. * ^ Fonotipia – A Centenary Celebration 1904-2004 SYMPOSIUM 1261 : Classical CD Reviews- May 2005 MusicWeb-International * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ * ^ "THE LATEST \'CLEOPATRA\'". In: _The New York Times_, October 24, 1890. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Cooper, Barbara T. (1998). _French Dramatists, 1789-1914_. Detroit, Michigan : Gale Research. ISBN 978-0-7876-1847-6 .


* _ This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed". Encyclopædia Britannica _ (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Mentioned in Chapter Two of Proust's The Guermantes Way from In Search of Lost Time Volume III


* Blanche Roosevelt (2009) _Victorien Sardou_ BiblioLife ISBN 1-110-54130-9 * Stephen Sadler Stanton (1990) _Camille and Other Plays: A Peculiar Position; The Glass of Water; La Dame aux Camelias; Olympe's Marriage; A Scrap of Paper_ Hill and Wang ISBN 0-8090-0706-1 * McCormick, John. 1998. "Sardou, Victorien." In _The Cambridge Guide to Theatre._ Ed. Martin Banham. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. 964. ISBN 0-521-43437-8 . * Lacour, L. 1880. _Trois théâtres_. * Matthews, Brander . 1881. _French Dramatists_. New York. * Doumic, R. 1895. _Écrivains d'aujourd'hui_. Paris. * Sarcey, F. 1901. _Quarante ans de théâtre_. Vol. 6.


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