Romantic drama

The romantic drama is a literary form in the genre of theater, born at the beginning of the 19th century in the wake of the bourgeois drama of the 18th century and influenced by the development of melodramas. Root and Shakespeare, the work of Stendhal published in 1823, and especially the Preface of Cromwell (1827) by Victor Hugo, the theorist of this new genre, are the founding texts. This form is characterized by its break with the Aristotelian rules of classical tragedy: there is no unity of time and place, even if a unit of action is preserved.

In 1833, the romantic drama in Catalonia was introduced by the writer Francesc Altés i Casals, with the work of Los caballeros de la Banda or Mudarra.

Although in Catalonia the first romantic pieces are in Spanish, some years later, several authors begin to use, under the influence of the Renaixença, the Catalan language in their works; In the fifties, Manuel Angelon wrote the first romantic drama in Catalan: La Virgen de las Mercedes.

In this period we must also emphasize the figure of Víctor Balaguer, who began his production writing historical dramas in the Spanish language, and later he became the author of tragedies such as The Wizards of the Dead (1879), based on the history of Romeo and Julieta, Ray of moon (1879), song to the homeland occitanocatalana and Don Juan Serrallonga (1868), romantic drama that gets a huge success.

During these years many private theater rooms are replaced by companies that have a stage; In Barcelona, about thirty amateur groups can be counted.

Its main features are:

1. Will to break with the structure of neoclassical drama (Theater of Neoclassicism, Literature of Neoclassicism, Neoclassicism, Classical Theater, Aristotelian Rules, Academicism, Spanish Literature of the Enlightenment).
2. Mix of the comic and the serious, in search of expressing the grotesque through the contrast between positive and negative values of existence; of characters of high and low social status and prose and verse in some pieces, but did not succeed. Once the playwrights have passed the fever of breaking the rules they write their works in verse.
3. Dynamic chronometer that breaks the three Aristotelian units of action (more than one story is told), of place (it takes place in several different places and separated or separated from each other, so that they use a large number of sets and sets or paintings) time (it takes more than twenty-four hours, and sometimes it can even last a lifetime, with diverse and extensive chronological cuts that mark the jumps in the action)
4. Gloomy atmosphere, nocturnal or agitated by all kinds of violent phenomena of nature: storms, lightning, shipwrecks, et cetera.
5. Rupture of the unit of style, mixing prose and verse, and within the same verse adopting the polymetry.
6. Rejection of Greco-Latin themes and preference for those of medieval history, legends and exotic and remote civilizations (medievalism, exoticism, orientalism, or -for French and English- Hispanism).
7. The characters are often mysterious or rebellious to the society of their time, against which they face.
8. abound dimensions performing, both referring to romantic scenery, such as those relating to the attitude of the characters.
9. Strong temporalization against the timelessness of the neoclassical theater, and a thick concretion of the theatrical space.
10. The action always appears carefully located.
11. The scenography acquires great importance in the work.
12. The number of acts can vary between three, four and five.
13. The fundamental issue is destiny, normally conveyed through love, always passionate, an absolute love, beyond good and evil, always relative.
14. Theme of freedom as feeling.
15. The will to create a complex and surprising intrigue that keeps the spectator attentive and procures truculent emotions over the purely dramatic action.
16. The didactic purpose of the eighteenth century disappears. They seek to move and inspire the public.

Criticism of Dramaturgical Restrictions

Main articles: Rules of classical theater and bourgeois drama.

In the xix th century
Romantic drama is a literary genre theorized by Victor Hugo (leader of the Romantic movement) and influenced by Shakespeare’s baroque theater as well as by German romantics (Heinrich von Kleist, Friedrich von Schiller…). It is a mostly historical theater where different styles mix, tragic, pathetic, but also comic and burlesque (or heroic). This new form of theater, developed by authors as varied as Victor Hugo, Alexander Dumas, Alfred de Vigny or Alfred de Musset, refuses to confront the obligations and rules of writing of classical theater such as the maintenance of three units (place, time, action) or respect for propriety.

A popular aesthetic
The historian and future politician François Guizot defends the idea, in his Life of Shakespeare (1821), that the theater is a popular festival that the people can not give themselves and that the artist must bring him. For him, as for those who in politics are called liberals, the theater must be written for the whole nation, in an era that has undergone profound upheavals since the end of the old regime, and remains passionate about history. as evidenced by the success of historical novels (as Ivanhoe, Walter Scott) or the advent of great historians (Augustin Thierry, Francois Guizot, Jules Michelet…). This popularization of the theater has occurred notably through non-subsidized Parisian theaters on the famous Boulevard du Temple, renamed boulevard du Crime in reference to the theme of most of the plays. Now we find in the romantic drama some elements of melodrama, such as multiple twists, the presence of characters marked as the traitor or the scorned girl, and dramatic springs such as the dagger or poison.

Victor Hugo outlined the theoretical lines of the romantic drama in Cromwell’s preface (1827). He defines romantic drama as “a total painting of nature”. So mix, according to his word, “grotesque and sublime”. According to Victor Hugo, the three ages of the world correspond to three moments of poetry: the ode, the epic, the drama. The primitive times are lyrical, the ancient times are epic, the modern times are dramatic. The drama thus becomes a point of completion, welcoming the totality of the real: “the theater is a point of view. Everything that exists in this world, in history, in man, everything must and can reflect on it, but under the baton of art “. With a new aesthetic, a new dramaturgy: the freedom of art is accompanied by a demand for totality, a mixture of genres and tones.

Revolution to Cromwell

A new vision of history
The romantic drama is rooted in the drama of the xviii th century, the bourgeois drama, illustrated by Diderot, Mercier or Beaumarchais, which depict events of the bourgeois newspaper. With the Revolution, the drama changes its meaning and becomes historical; History, however, does not concern only the powerful, as in the classical dramaturgy, but also the people who gradually invite themselves on stage. This is the case, for example, in Victor Hugo’s Ruy Blas, where a simple servant becomes Prime Minister of the Queen of Spain.

The hero of the romantic drama
It is a marginal, by reaction to the elevation of the characters advocated by Aristotle in his Poetics. Prosper Mérimée, also historian, writes with the Jacquerie (1828) a drama as a conversational narrative that takes the reader in the middle of the xiv th century and offers an interpretation of the uprising of the peasants of Beauvais. The unity of place is then undermined: the multiplicity of places is called by the totalizing aim, the desire for accuracy. This freedom in the choice of places and the large number of characters make these pieces difficult to mount: Cromwell, which features 60 characters in an action of 6000 verses, is very little played. As toShow in an armchair of Alfred de Musset, it is simply not written for the stage.

The romantic hero is subject to the European individualistic wave which expresses itself in particular by the rights of the man and the image of Napoleon. It is marked by the disenchantment, the impression, as Musset expresses it in Rolla, of having “come too late in a too old world”. The ego of the romantic character is often cleaved, marked by the coexistence of the grotesque and the sublime. The grotesque is this questioning of virtus (the courage) of the great man precisely because of his human weakness: this is the case of Oliver Cromwell but also Lorenzaccio.

Also, his social status is opposed to his aspirations and grandeur of soul: for example, in Ruy Blas, Ruy is a lackey, but he is in love with the Queen of Spain: his social status is opposed to his aspiration. Also, the opposite is possible: in Hernani, King Charles V is forced to hide in a closet to spy Hernani and Doña Sol: for the time, a king can accomplish this is totally implausible. There is therefore a duality in the behavior of the character, showing his duality between his soul and his body, the sublime and the grotesque.

The Battle of Hernani
At the first representations of Hernani, in 1830, a fierce battle between partisans and detractors of the play began. This quarrel quickly becomes that of classicism and romanticism, old and new. Thus, it seems that the detractors of the romantic drama were numerous to attend the representations of Hernani in order to disturb its smooth running, fights broke out then between the adversaries and the partisans of Hugo. Performances could last up to five hours as whistles and throwing of projectiles disturbed the actors.

The symbolic drama of Villiers de L’Isle-Adam and Maeterlinck is a descendant of romantic drama in his individualism, his subjectivism and also his nostalgia.

The greatest authors will have been Victor Hugo (Hernani, Ruy Blas or Lucretia Borgia), Alfred de Musset (Lorenzaccio), Alfred de Vigny (Chatterton). The romantic drama was sometimes considered a “short-lived revolution,” but it’s not completely accurate: this current countered classicism, which was the dominant genre from the xvii th century romantic drama proved that classical was not the only way to write theater.

Examples of romantic dramas are, in French Romanticism, Hernani (Battle of Hernani, February 25, 1830) or Cromwell (published in 1827, so long that it was never represented) by Victor Hugo; in Spanish Romanticism, Don Álvaro or La fuerza del sino (1835), by the Duke of Rivas, El trovador by Antonio García Gutiérrez, Los amantes de Teruel (1837) by Juan Eugenio Hartzenbusch, Don Juan Tenorio (1844) or Traitor, unacknowledged and Martyr (1849), by Zorrilla; at German Romanticism, Faust (1806-1832) by Goethe (a dialogued work, not strictly conceived for the scene); in the English Romantic, Hellas (1822), of Shelley, or Manfred (1817), of Byron (both dramatic poems more scenic); in Italian Romanticism, Il Conte di Carmagnola (1820) or Adelchi (1822), by Alessandro Manzoni.

Some authors of the early twentieth century, such as Eduardo Marquina (In Flanders the sun has set, 1911) or Francisco Villaespesa (The Alcázar de las Perlas, 1911), have been considered “epigones” of the Spanish romantic drama.

Musical drama
Main article: Romantic opera
See also: Verdi, Wagner and Chatterton (opera).
Main article: Romantic ballet
See also: Giselle

Featured authors
Towards the end of the sixties of the nineteenth century a new generation of authors emerged that will be decisive for the evolution of the Catalan theater. His most prominent member is Serafí Pitarra, who cultivates both the drama and the comedy of customs and is the author, among others, of the work El ferrer de corte (1872). Other writers are Eduard Vidal i Valenciano, Josep Feliu i Codina, Joaquim Riera i Bertran, Conrad Roure, Valentí Almirall and Josep Maria Arnau.

Most of these authors coincide -and will interfere with each other- in workshops that are organized on some particular floors. These meetings can be both political and entertaining and on many occasions theatrical performances are also assembled.

The young people that come together, from different social strata, have a strong political conscience and use literature as an instrument to criticize established culture with a humorous treatment that includes cartoon and parody.

Source from Wikipedia