NICE ET L’OPERA (in French)

Written by Robert Rourret
242 pp, Nice 2012
30 Euros
ISBN 978-2-9527645

How to order the book? Just send a mail to the author at :

Click here for the current Nice opera


Now this is a work every opera lover should buy and cherish. That is if you are familiar with French and opera history is of interest to you which I assume most readers of this website are. Rourret  writes the history of opera  in Nice at several venues through alphabetically classified keywords, an unconventional way of doing this yet with the advantage you can easily browse through the opus  and read those chapters of interest to you whether entitled Caballé, Puccini, Gunsbourg  or ténors. Mind you all the keywords come together and you get an excellent picture of what Nice and opera (and operetta!) was about from its origins to the present day

(Listen to l'air d'esclave sung by Yvonne Gall from Jean Nougues's QUO VADIS which was created in Nice in 1909)

The book is also lavishly illustrated with black and white ànd colour photos  and it has a chronology (30 pages)  of all the works presented at the Nice opera.  Complete casts are initially not given yet from the 1875 season onwards the most well-known singers (and their roles) who appeared are mentioned which is already an achievement in itself and gives the book an extra appeal to non-French speakers as you don’t need French to read fascinating casts.  There’s also an index ( a few names are missing though such as Audiger and Caujolle to name just two), a bibliography and a chronology in dates of the theatres. In short the subject is meticulously researched and in a vast work as this I only met one real spelling mistake being Ernest van Dijck (not van Dyck) the others are clearly printer’s gremlins such Georges (not Goerges pg. 24) Pioch and Andrée (not André pg.69) Gabriel, elsewhere they are printed correctly. In the index Rourret misses out on a few first names such as Valentin (Jaume), André (Huc-Santana),  Edoardo (Scovello) and Emile (Vanni-Marcoux). Of course 19th century singers often just had Madame or Monsieur in front of their surnames and it’s not always easy to track down their first names  even reviews often give the surname only. Thus the baritone (Vittorio)  Carpi merely gets an  M.  in front of his name etc. But this is a minor quibble in an otherwise beautifully produced book. You can’t go wrong with a book which carries the keyword “ténors” and  devotes ten pages to the famous tenors who sang in Nice and with some rare photos as a treat !  In short get this book before it costs you a fortune on ebay.

< (Massenet's Marie-Magdalene was created in Nice in 1903)

Rudi van den Bulck