Sardou, Victorien(vēktôryăN` särdo͞o`), 1831–1908, French dramatist. Author of some 70 plays, he won great popularity with his light comedies and pretentious historical pieces, but his reputation later declined. His best farce comedy is Divorçons! (1880, tr. 1881). Among his semihistorical melodramas are Patrie! (1869, tr. 1915) and Fédora (1882, tr. 1883), in which Sarah Bernhardt made her triumphant return to the Paris stage. Sardou's other plays written for her are La Tosca (1887, tr. 1925), the source of Puccini's opera, and Cléopâtre (1890). Two plays written for Sir Henry Irving, Robespierre (1899) and Dante (1903), were never given in French. Also among his plays in a lighter vein is Madame Sans-Gêne (1893, tr. 1901). Sardou was attacked for plagiarism but defended himself successfully. He was elected to the French Academy.
Born Sept. 7, 1831, in Paris; died there Nov. 8, 1908. French playwright. Member of the Académie Française (1877).
Sardou wrote many plays, including vaudevilles and comedies of intrigue, such as The Legs of a Fly (I860), and semihis-torical comedies, such as Madame Sans-Gêne (with E. Moreau; staged 1893; published 1907; Russian translation, 1894). He also wrote dramas of everyday life and comedies of manners, such as The Benoiton Family (1865) and Rabagas (1872), and historical melodramas, such as Fatherland! (1869; Russian translation, 1872). Light and cleverly constructed, with witty dialogue, his plays were very popular with the middle-class public. They were timely and had a certain satirical incisiveness, but these qualities were blunted by the author’s apologetic affirmation of bourgeois values. Sardou’s plays have provided themes for a number of operas, including Puccini’s Tosca (1900). Works by Sardou were staged in prerevolutionary Russia; they have also been produced on the Soviet stage.
WORKSThéâtre complet, vols. 1–15. Paris 1934–61.
REFERENCESIstoriia zapadnoevropeiskogo teatra, vol. 3. Moscow, 1963.
Mouly, G. La Vie prodigieuse de V. Sardou. Paris, 1931.