What's a beautiful young woman to do with two suitors — one of whom has a lyrical way with words but is too insecure to face her? She should be careful not to fall for the wrong guy.


What’s a beautiful young woman to do when she’s being wooed by two – one of whom knows just what to say but is too afraid to address her face to face? In David DiChiera’s tragicomic opera, the only thing standing between true love and the tender-hearted duelist and writer Cyrano is his prominent nose. Or so he believes. Despite his prowess with the pen and the sword, love eludes him. Cyrano lends his poetry to his more handsome rival to aid this suitor’s romancing of his beloved. The beautiful Roxane is seduced by the poetry of the words, but her true suitor remains unknown to her. Falling for the wrong guy has heartbreaking consequences.

Cyrano is an opera in three acts by David DiChiera and a libretto in French by Bernard Uzan. It’s based on the play Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. The opera premiered in 2007 at the Michigan Opera Theatre followed by performances at the Opera Company of Philadelphia and at the Florida Grand Opera. Accessbility Options Sung in French with projected English titles.


Scene 1

The audience is eager for a performance by the famous actor Montfleury. Christian de Neuvilette, a new military recruit, points out to a friend a woman in one of the boxes he’s in love with. Roxane is beautiful, wealthy and learned. Christian laments that he’s not bright or polished enough to win her heart.

The performance begins, but in the middle of it, Cyrano de Bergerac, a duelist and writer with a prominent nose, chases Montfleury offstage. A nobleman makes a bad joke about Cyrano’s nose. Cyrano counters with more poetic alternatives. Swords are drawn, and Cyrano wounds the nobleman.

Cyrano confesses to a friend his love for Roxane. Yet, he laments his large nose will keep her from ever falling for him. Soon, Roxane’s nurse arrives to ask Cyrano to meet Roxane at a bakery the next day.

Scene 2

Cyrano arrives at the bakery. Roxane confesses to him her love for a man. Cyrano thinks she’s referring to him … but it is actually Christian. Roxane makes Cyrano promise to protect Christian in battle.

The cadets arrive, praising Cyrano’s bravery and skill. Christian can’t resist interjecting several references to Cyrano’s nose. Cyrano orders the room cleared and is alone with Christian. He tells Christian he is Roxane’s cousin, and Christian confesses his love for her. The two become unlikely friends and decide Cyrano will write letters to Roxane under Christian’s name.


Roxane waits for Christian. Cyrano exits before Le Comte de Guiche enters. He, too, is in love with Roxane and asks her to become his lover before he goes to war against the Spanish. She declines, but not before convincing him to allow Cyrano and Christian’s company to remain in Paris.

Christian arrives and tells Cyrano that he no longer needs his services; he believes he can win Roxane on his own. But he fails. Cyrano tells Christian he will “feed” him the right words to woo Roxane.

Eventually Cyrano takes over the courting, speaking while Christian merely mouths words. Christian climbs up the balcony and kisses Roxane. A monk arrives – just in time – and agrees to marry Christian and Roxane. Cyrano, Christian and their company are sent off to war. Roxane makes Cyrano promise that Christian will write every day.


Scene 1

Cyrano has braved enemy lines every day to deliver “Christian’s” letters to Roxane. Roxane later crosses enemy territory to see Christian. Cyrano tells Christian about the letters, and gives him a letter to sign so he can give it to Roxane if he dies. Christian notices a mark on the letter, and Cyrano tells him it is one of his tears.

Roxane tells Christian she would love him even if he were unattractive, and he realizes she actually loves Cyrano. Before heading into battle, Christian convinces Cyrano to tell Roxane the truth about the letters. Just as Cyrano is about to, two soldiers enter carrying the fatally wounded Christian.

Scene 2

Fifteen years later, a still-bereft Roxane lives at a convent. Cyrano visits every day, delivering news from the outside world. During one visit, Roxane notices blood on his head. Cyrano confesses he has been brutally beaten by one of his enemies and is dying.

Before he dies, Cyrano asks if he may read Christian’s farewell letter to Roxane one last time. Roxane realizes Cyrano is not reading the letter; he’s reciting it. Now she knows: It was Cyrano she loved all along. Cyrano dies in Roxane’s arms.

POPera Facts

Cyrano is a story so touching and timeless, it’s been played out in books, film and TV through the ages.

  • Roxane, starring Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah, is a modern retelling.
  • So was Hitch with Will Smith, Eva Mendes and Kevin James.
  • It’s even been referenced in The Brady Bunch, The Simpsons and Seinfeld.

Meet the Composer

David Dichiera

(1935- )

Dr. David DiChiera, founder and artistic director of Michigan Opera Theatre (MOT) and the man who saved and restored the Detroit Opera House, was born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, and raised in Los Angeles by Italian immigrant parents.

He studied composition at UCLA, earning his master’s degree in 1956 with highest honors and being inducted to Phi Beta Kappa. He won a Fulbright scholarship to Italy where he simultaneously composed a sonata for the Naples Festival of Contemporary Music and researched and contributed a series of articles on 18th-century Italian opera to leading music encyclopedias. Returning to America, he joined the UCLA staff as an instructor, subsequently earning his Ph.D. in musicology.

Early in 2016, the 82-year-old impresario announced he would step down from his position at the end of MOT’s 2016/17 season. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this April.

DiChiera’s long affiliation with Detroit began in 1962, when he became a professor and ultimately the chairman of music at Oakland University. He created “Overture

to Opera,” a program of staged opera scenes and one-act operas that he narrated and toured to hundreds of schools and community centers throughout the state. He laid the foundation for Michigan’s professional opera company, MOT, in 1971. While creating the state’s first professional opera company, he spearheaded the establishment of the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts in Detroit and served as its founding director.

He was named chairman of the board of OPERA America and served in that capacity from 1979 to 1983. In 1981, DiChiera was appointed artistic director of the Dayton Opera Association. He made history in 1986, when he became the founding general director of Opera Pacific in Orange County, California, becoming the only general director in the nation to have founded and led two opera companies.

MOT has been at the forefront of nurturing the careers of leading African-American artists, and DiChiera has been recognized both locally and nationally for these efforts.


Bernard Uzan


Steven Mercurio


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