Ruy Blas

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Ruy Blas is a tragic drama by Victor Hugo. It was the first play presented at the Théâtre de la Renaissance and opened on November 8, 1838. Though considered by many to be Hugo’s best drama, the play initially met with only average success.

The action takes place in 17th century Spain during the reign of Charles II. Ruy Blas, an indentured commoner (and a poet), dares to love the Queen. The play is a thinly veiled cry for political reform.


The story centers around a practical joke played on the queen by Don Sallusto for revenge. Knowing that one of his slaves, Ruy Blas, has secretly fallen in love with the queen, the Don disguises Blas as a nobleman and takes him to court. Intelligent and generous, Blas becomes popular, is appointed prime minister, and begins useful reforms, and conquers the queen's heart. Don Sallusto returns to take his revenge; he discloses the masquerade by cruelly humiliating Blas - he commands Blas to close the window and pick up his handkerchief, while trying to explain the condition of Spanish politics. Blas kills him and decides to commit suicide with poison. On the point of death, he is forgiven by the queen who openly declares her love for him.


  • Felix Mendelssohn, after reading (and hating) the play, was commissioned to write a Concert Overture based on it, his Opus 95.
  • Irish actor and dramatist Edmund Falconer......
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