This scene is in a square in Marais outside Roxane’s house. There’s a bench and a tall wall with a balcony, so we all know there’s going to be some balcony-related love-profession going on in the near future. On the other side of the stage is a similar-looking house with a knocker that is all banged up "like an injured thumb."
Great. So when the scene opens, we see Ragueneau conversing with the Duenna on the bench; he’s in the middle of lamenting his wife having run off with a musketeer. Not cool on her part.
Even less cool, her actions resulted in Ragueneau attempting to hang himself. Fortunately, Cyrano discovered him in the process and saved his life. He then set Ragueneau up with a job taking care of Roxane, which wasn’t based on his self-interest at all.
In the middle of all this catching-up, Roxane calls down from her window for the Duenna to hurry up; they’re getting ready to go see a play called The Tender Passion.
Cyrano shows up to visit Roxane, singing and being a know-it-all while accompanied by two musician-pages, whose service he won in a bet over grammar. He sends them away to either end of the street and tells them to play if anyone comes along to interrupt his private meeting with Roxane.
Cyrano is glad to find Roxane’s opinion of Christian is high, but only because it’s based on his lyrical lovelorn letters, which she has memorized.
Seeing that Comte de Guiche is on his way, Roxane tells Cyrano to hide, lest de Guiche find him with her and get suspicious that there’s some hanky-panky going on.
Cyrano agrees and leaves just as de Guiche arrives.
The man doesn’t have good news; he tells Roxane that he has been made Colonel of the company. His first act as the Big Man will be to leave tomorrow—with his cadets (Cyrano’s regiment) to go to war.
Roxane freaks out because Christian is in his company of cadets (so is Cyrano, but he’s obviously less important).
Roxane thinks fast; she decides to pretend to be in love with de Guiche in order cut a deal with him to save Christian and Cyrano.
So she’s all, "I’m in love with you! I’ve just been pretending to hate you!" which, thanks to de Guiche’s wishful thinking, is very, very believable.
(Keep in mind that he’s married already himself and has been trying to force his friend/lackey, Vicomte de Valvert, on Roxane. This makes him super-sleazy in the following interaction.)
She then tells him the best way to avenge himself on Cyrano (whom he hates for embarrassing his friend, Valvert) is to keep Cyrano and his cadets in town, away from the war. Cyrano, she explains, would hate being kept from the action and excitement of the battlefield.
De Guiche, clearly a complete moron, agrees to it readily.
Fortunately, instead of jumping Roxane there and then, he decides to rendezvous with her later in a nearby convent.
Seriously? A convent?
After de Guiche leaves, Christian arrives. When Cyrano tries to prep him to romance Roxane, he refuses; Christian is tired of hiding behind Cyrano’s words and wants to speak for himself.
Meanwhile, the Duenna says, "We missed the play!" But everyone ignores her.
Anyway, Christian’s idea sounds like a great plan.
But it goes disastrously. All he can come up with to say to Roxane is "I love you," and nothing more. Roxane leaves angrily.
Christian goes crawling back to Cyrano with his tail between his legs, begging him to make things right again.
Cyrano complies; he imitates Christian’s voice and rhapsodizes his love to Roxane while hidden in the shadows beneath her balcony.
Moved by this eloquence and passion, Roxane forgives "Christian" for his earlier clumsiness and listens, captivated.
Cyrano, in his rapture, almost reveals himself—he says such things as "to-night, I indeed speak / for the first time!" and "[I] have no fear / of moving you to laughter" (by telling her the truth, he means). But each time he wusses out and spins his words poetically.
By the end, Roxane is trembling and weeping in love.
Then Christian, who has been hanging out and listening, almost ruins it. He requests a kiss, much to Cyrano’s horror.
At this point, music plays, alerting Cyrano to an intruder. A Capuchin friar arrives, looking for Roxane. Cyrano sends him in the wrong direction and returns his attention to Roxane on the balcony.
Cyrano tries to gloss Christian’s request over, but there is no need; as we said, Roxane is all lovey-dovey and ready for a make-out session.
So Christian climbs up the balcony and kisses her. Cyrano considers this his own triumph because his words won her kiss, not anything that Christian did, apparently ignoring the fact that this is very twisted and also, what the heck does he plan to do now?
Everyone is again interrupted by the Capuchin, who comes back bearing a message for Roxane from Comte de Guiche; he’s reminding her to meet him at the convent—tonight.
Roxane, thinking on her feet, makes up a very different message and pretends to read it aloud to Christian (because announcing her plans to rendezvous another man would be not-so-tactful). She tells him the Cardinal wants them (meaning herself and Christian) to be married as soon as possible.
So she and Christian rush to the altar for a secret wedding.
Before she leaves, Roxane asks Cyrano to stay behind and distract the Comte should he arrive before the ceremony is complete. Cyrano agrees and is left alone in the bushes.
When de Guiche arrives, Cyrano makes good on his word. The Comte is masked and cloaked to hide his identity, and Cyrano takes advantage of the Comte’s temporary blindness (from the mask).
Cyrano pretends to be a drunken madman who thinks he has just fallen from the moon. In spite of himself, the Comte becomes interested in this madman’s story and listens for a quarter of an hour—the time required to complete the marriage ceremony by a priest in France.
When the Comte realizes what has happened, he takes immediate revenge by ordering Cyrano and Christian to their places in the regiment. He tells them they are to leave tonight for a siege at Arras (in northern France) against the Spanish.
Roxane and Christian do not even have time to consummate their marriage, much to Cyrano’s relief.
Roxane begs Cyrano to protect Christian in battle, ensure he remains faithful, and make sure he writes every day. Cyrano agrees (surprise!) and they march off to war.