Oh, the lessons we can learn from the story of the soulful, brave-in-battle but timid-in-love Cyrano de Bergerac. The character’s name alone calls to mind unrequited love, a prominent proboscis and the importance of speaking one’s mind.

A few lessons from Edmond Rostand’s famous French narrative, Cyrano de Bergerac:

  • Don’t judge a book by its cover. (Or a person by a particular physical feature.)
  • Love is blind.
  • Speak for yourself.

Cyrano, a celebrated writer and duelist, feels he’s not worthy of love because of his large nose. He provides the lyrical words for his more handsome rival to woo the woman they’re both in love with. And the lovely Roxane falls for … the wrong guy.

Everyone suffers tragic consequences.

The story, originally published in 1897, is so timeless, it’s been played out in multiple ways throughout the millennia. The opera, Cyrano, by Dr. David DiChiera (composer) and Bernard Uzan (librettist) that premiered in 2007 isn’t the only modern adaptation of the story.

  • Roxane, starring Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah, is a modern retelling. Here, a tennis racket stands in for the sword in the original.
  • Hitch with Will Smith, Eva Mendes and Kevin James is another comical take on the tragedy.
  • Cyrano was even referenced in The Brady Bunch, The Simpsons and Seinfeld.

Uzan, who has loved the story since childhood, wanted his version to be true to Rostand’s original. “I tried to keep as much of it as possible,” he said. “But the original play has over 200 characters. So, I reduced where I could. But 30 to 40 percent of the text is from the original.”

See Cyrano on Saturday, Nov. 4 or Thursday, Nov. 9. Learn more or purchase tickets (which start at just $21), at operacarolina.org or by calling 704.332.7177.