Nick Hammond

Nick Hammond, Professor in French at Cambridge University, regularly writes reviews for "The Times Literary Supplement" and is a former member of the Birmingham Symphony Chorus under the baton of Simon Rattle. His books include "The Cambridge History of French Literature" (Cambridge University Press, 2011, as co-editor), "Gossip, Sexuality and Scandal in France 1610-1715" (Peter Lang, 2011), and "The Powers of Sound and Song in Early Modern Paris" (Penn State UP, 2019). 

Un Prophète

September 22, 2009 | By Nick Hammond | Film

For some reason, I can happily sit through six hours of a Wagner opera, but in the cinema, anything over 90 minutes tends to become unbearable. It takes something special to make me want to go to a film that … Read More


September 22, 2009 | By Nick Hammond | Music

Vincent Le Texier as Wozzeck and Waltraud Meier as Marie. Photo: Opéra National de Paris/S. Mathé At the beginning of last year, I wrote a review for Paris Update of a production of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck at the Opéra Bastille … Read More

The Secret Life of France

July 28, 2009 | By Nick Hammond | Books

Lucy Wadham appropriately chooses to begin her engaging and engrossing book, The Secret Life of France, with a quotation from Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part I: “Remember where we are,/In France, among a fickle wavering nation.” Her book is one in … Read More

Am Anfang

July 7, 2009 | By Nick Hammond | Music

Anselm Kiefer’s monumental towers worked well on the enormous stage of the Bastille opera house. Photo: Charles Duprat/Opéra National de Paris Stop the presses! Watching walls being built is the new equivalent of watching paint dry. In Am Anfang (In … Read More

King Roger

June 23, 2009 | By Nick Hammond | Music

The orgy scene becomes a swimming lesson in this production. Photo: Ruth Walz/Opéra National de Paris I must admit to having more than a little emotional investment in the opera King Roger (Król Roger), since Simon Rattle’s recording of the … Read More

Un Cœur Simple

Tragic Félicité

April 1, 2008 | By Nick Hammond | Film

Adapting the great 19th-century novelist Gustave Flaubert for the screen has always been a tricky process. Claude Chabrol’s 1991 version of Madame Bovary, for example, never manages to capture the mordant irony of the original text. And provincial boredom, while … Read More

Le Voyage du Ballon Rouge

Length before Strength

February 19, 2008 | By Nick Hammond | Film

Inspired by Albert Lamorisse’s celebrated 34-minute film dating from 1956, Le Ballon Rouge, the Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien has made a considerably longer movie on the same subject: a small boy is followed through Paris by a mysterious red balloon. … Read More

Mélac Bistrot à Vins

December 18, 2007 | By Nick Hammond | Archive

Through the Grapevine No shortage of wine here. With the smoking ban in French restaurants about to take effect on January 1, 2008, it is well worth praising a pioneer like Jacques Mélac, who has had a no-smoking policy for … Read More

Ce que Mes Yeux Ont Vu

Free Inspiration

December 4, 2007 | By Nick Hammond | Film

This is a film full of good intentions. In his first full-length movie, Laurent de Bartillat has assembled a top-class cast, led by the wonderfully versatile Sylvie Testud (how many other young actresses are willing to be portrayed in unglamorous … Read More