B0852. Emma Calvé. Sous tous les ciels J’ai Chanté. Souvenirs. Avec 16 gravures hors texte. (French Text) Paris, Librairie Plon, 1940. 297pp. Photos. Softbound.
“Calvé’s autobiography, ‘Sous tous les ciels j'ai chanté’ (Plon, 1940), is replete with factual errors; her earlier autobiography ‘My Life’ (D. Appleton & Co., 1922) is almost totally anecdotal. Throughout her career she was notoriously vague about her age, at one period subtracting and at another adding a few years - whatever she felt was right for the ‘drama’ of the occasion. In the end, I fear, her arithmetic became hopelessly confused.”
- Victor Girard, Marston Program Notes
“Rosa Emma Calvé, born on 15 August, 1858 at Decazeville, had a scintillating career as a singer in the 1900s, when the opera had reached its zenith. Formerly a salesgirl for gloves at Millau, she could neither read music nor play the piano. Notably in the role of Bizet's Carmen, which she was to sing more than 1300 times, she became the driving force behind famous composers such as Massenet and Reynaldo Hahn. A grateful nation awarded her with the Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur.
As a pioneer of the impressive shows in the style of Barnum, touring the world from Paris to New York via Rome, she became the idol of public passion and won the admiration of the most famous personalities of the period. Driven by an insatiable curiosity she studied spiritualism, Yoga, Hinduism and Buddhism. One finds her immoderate passion reflected in a baroque, medieval castle in Cabrières, which swallowed up a good part of her wealth.
Calvé is believed to have had several love-affairs; but after a marriage to an Italian tenor, however, which ended in divorce, the only true love of her life was Henri Cain. This brilliant young man, who belonged to the smart set of Paris, was a writer and portrait painter.
If the name of Emma Calvé sounds familiar to some of our fellow citizens, it is because they can take pride in the fact that she who was called ‘the greatest diva of the Belle Epoque’ was part of our local history. In fact, after the tiring tours in the United States, undertaken with the dual intention of convincing the Americans to join the war, as well as to collect funds for the Red Cross, an exhausted Emma Calvé came to Bourg-la-Reine in 1914 to take rest at her mother Léonie's place, at 2 rue Brun (formerly known as rue du Potager).
Emma Calvé died on 6 January, 1942 following a hepatic illness. Two days before her death a radio journalist from the Office de radiodiffusion managed to record her last words: ‘It is time to leave, I have no strength left’. She was buried in the cemetery of Millau, her grave marked by a simple tombstone.”
- Chaplain Philippe, "EMMA CALVÉ", Bourg-la-Reine Magazine, February, 1992