B0952. Jean Contrucci. Emma Calvé, La Diva du Siècle. Paris, Albin Michel, 1989. 379pp. Bibliography; Photos; Illus. (French Text) (Pictorial thick paper covers). - 2-226-03541-9 9782226035417
“It was in 1966 that Jean Contrucci began writing when he became a journalist in Provence Magazine. He worked there until 1972, then he became a journalist at the Evening before writing for the newspaper Le Provençal from 1981 to 1997. From 1975 to 1995 he was also the correspondent of the newspaper Le Monde in Marseille. From 1987 to 2008 he held the position of literary columnist for La Provence and writes many literary critics. In the early 2000s, he began writing a detective series, The New Mysteries of Marseille, a ‘wink’ tribute to the novel by Emile Zola.”
“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
"When Emma Calvé made her first studio recordings in 1902, she was arguably the most celebrated ‘singing actress’ on the opera stage….Unlike most singing actresses, Calvé was a master vocalist, and her technique never deserted her, as witness the many recordings she made in 1920 for Pathé….there’s much to enjoy from this 60-year-old legend. In fact, Ward Marston opines in his notes that ‘L’heure exquise’ and ‘Viens avec nous’ are among the greatest she ever made….Admirers of French singing are in for a treat.”
- James Camner, FANFARE, March/April, 1999