Emma Calvé: a diva’s campagne de propagande

Fuchs, S. (2023) Emma Calvé: a diva’s campagne de propagande. In: Creative Women of the “Lost Generation”: Women in the Arts in the Wake of the Great War. Routledge, New York. ISBN 9781032387352 (hardback) 9781003346517 (e-book)


Taking one of the author’s archival finds—a photograph of the famous French diva Emma Calvé in a Red Cross uniform, made by the Fifth-Avenue-based Aimé Dupont Studio in the early twentieth century and now preserved at the Musée de Millau et des Grands Causses—as its starting point, this chapter examines the singer’s wartime tour of America in 1915–16. It locates this tour alongside Calvé’s other efforts towards self-re-fashioning following her retirement from the operatic stage around the turn of the nineteenth century, suggesting that the war enabled the singer to take on a new—and newly relevant—role in public life, the memory of which she maintained until her death in 1942. Imagining what this photograph may have meant to and for Calvé when she first posed for it, and some of the meanings she and others may have attributed to it since, this chapter also acknowledges some of the challenges involved in interpreting archival artifacts.

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