Directors, ballet masters, stage directors, choreographers, architects, ... Octave discovers the personalities that have marked the history of the Opera which continues to attract the great names of music and dance.
Jacques Rouché is a well-known art patron, owner of the perfume house L.T. Piver cie. He was the owner of the newspaper La Grande Revue and manager of the Théâtre des Arts, and was then appointed Director of the Paris Opera, replacing André Messager and Leimistin Broussan. His nomination was highly criticized, for he was only seen as a successful perfumer, an outsider lacking the cultural background. He took profit of a one-year-gap before his official nomination to undertake a long tour of the major European opera halls, meeting with directors, stage managers, designers, composers, singing and ballet teachers… Jacques Rouché formally took office in September 1914. Right after, the Palais Garnier was closed due to the war. The theatre reopened its doors 18 months later, with a few performances like Samson and Delilah (1916) and Castor and Pollux (1918). At the end of the war Jacques Rouché presented international contemporary works, inviting composers like Claude Debussy, Gabriel Fauré, Arthur Honegger, Francis Poulenc, Serge Prokofiev, and Richard Strauss. In the 1930s Serge Lifar was nominated Ballet Master at the Paris Opera Ballet to restore its former prestige. Unfortunately the theatre audience rate was still low and the deficit was increasing, threatening to ruin Jacques Rouché who invested his own money to keep the Opera functioning. In 1939 French Government launched the French Board of National and Lyrical theatres (Réunion des Théâtres Lyriques et Nationaux, RTLN) which brought together the Paris Opera and the Opéra-Comique, with Rouché as administrator. However the German Occupation had huge impacts on the Paris Opera. Along with a part of the orchestra, Rouché sought refuge in Cahors. He was ordered back to Paris in July 1940. He wished to retire from the RTLN but was convinced to stay by his own staff. Due to the Anti-Jewish decrees, Rouché was compelled to let go over 30 members of his staff, but managed to pay their wages himself until 1942. Following Liberation, he was called upon to explain his actions during the war. Although he was cleared of charges, he was relieved from his duties in January 1945. He retired in his private mansion and died in November 1957.