The first play written by the French writer Ionesco was “The Bold Soprano”. It was written in 1948 and performed in 1950 in Paris. Today is one of the most performed plays in France, even though the first performance wasn’t a success.
The author’s inspiration for this play emerged from his desire to learn the English language. While writing the play the author tried in every way to insert everyday phrases and words, that he heard in his everyday life, into the plot and his attempt provoked laughter.
The plot is concise and at first seems pretty bizarre but as the scenes go on we become aware of the reasons for which the author chose the family Smith as his main characters.
All the married couples are described so similarly that they could easily be mistaken one for another and on the other hand they are so forgetful that they barely recognize each other. He showed them as completely irrelevant because for Ionesco philistines weren’t persons but a species. Because of his opinion of them a conflict amongst the character is impossible because they actually don’t exist as people.
The plot begins and develops in the Smith’s home. Their home is described as a typical English home. In the beginning mister, Smith spends his days reading the newspaper and he finds out that Bobby Watson is dead. When his name is mentioned, the author introduces us to the Watsons.
Everyone in that family is named Bobby, whether it’s a woman or a man.
The maid Mary enters the plot. She comes around occasionally. She always gives the audience information that is contradictory to what they find out from the Smiths. She describes her day and in the same time she presents herself as the maid. One part of the play is dedicated to her monolog and the Smiths repeat her sentences alluding to their hopes that that was exactly how she had spent her day.
The Smiths are visited by the Martins and the fireman’s chief and they have a typical conversation with them but the conversation becomes meaningless by irregular stringing of letters and words.
Elizabeth and mister Donald Martin are a married couple that comes to the Smith family and they all sit around a table. The only problem was that, after entering the house, they didn’t recognize each other anymore. Then they introduce themselves, say their stories, state some facts from their histories and in the end they come to the conclusion that they live in the same place and that they moved to London in the same year. Also, they realized they had identical children and that they live together. After some time they conclude that they are a married couple.
Then Mary comes back to the plot and says that the statements made by the Martins are lies. The Smiths were absent the whole time, even though everything took place in their dining room, and they came to the table to start a conversation with the Martins when they hear the doorbell ringing.
Miss Smith checked the door several times but every time the doorbell rang there was no one there. When she gave up her husband went to open the door and then he saw the fireman’s chief there.
He was there for a short period of time. He always came by the Smiths to tell them his false adventures. He was always worried about having to leave. Even though both of the families knew he was telling meaningless stories, they like him.
When he sat at the table they first wanted to be sure if he was at the door before and when they concluded that he wasn’t he started telling his adventures. The only thing he thought about is having to leave if they call him. The Martins liked him so much that they begged him to tell more stories.
Mary comes again and there is an obvious attraction between her and the chief. He then left and everyone came back to the table.
Then a completely meaningless conversation starts. The sentences had no meaning and they were divided into words and the words were divided into letters. The characters were shouting because of no apparent reason or order. The plot ends in a completely absurd way.
The string of meaningless conversations is nothing unusual for Ionesco because he was an expert in writing them.
In the end, the plot starts developing again in the same way but with a significant change. This times it starts with the Martins.
Even though the name of the play is “The Bold Soprano” that character doesn’t even appear. It’s not even on the character list. The character is only mentioned when the fireman’s chief leaves the house.
Time: one autumn night
Place: the Smith family’s apartment
Characters: the Smiths, the Martins, Mary, fireman’s chief
Eugene Ionesco Biography
Eugene Ionesco was born on November 26th, 1909 in Romania. In 1911 he moved to France where he stayed until 1922 when he goes back to Romania again. Since he spent most of his young years in France, he forgot the Romanian language so he started studying it again in order to study in Bucharest.
In 1928, after finishing high school, he studied French literature and he got his diploma in 1933. He got married in 1936 and he got a daughter. Because of her, he wrote many children’s stories.
In 1938 he moved back to France where he spent a lot of time but he got his citizenship in 1950.
He wrote mostly in French but he was awarded as a Romanian writer.
He entered the literature with a book of poems “Elegies for Little Beings”. He started writing plays fortuitously and his play “The Bold Soprano” made him one of the lead names in the avant-garde.
His other works are: “The Lessons”, “Victims of Duty”, “Rhinoceros”, “The King Exists”.
He died when he was 84, on March 28th, 1994 in Paris where he was also buried.