Alice Felici: notes on a great Puerto Rican soprano;

By Nestor Murray-Irizarry, Historian 

 

Very few times, at 76 years old, I have felt sorry for not being able to write a book about one of our most internationally renowned artists: Alice Felici Chevalier. It has been very difficult for me to study and research. Our resources are very limited and the leisure time invested has been very limited

      Alice was one of the first Puerto Rican sopranos to be invited to sing with the most successful and emblematic artists of her time. It is very difficult to find a soprano of her generation, who at that time,  offered Europe a wonderful display of Puerto Rican artistic talent. I hope that these notes will inspire some young people   who wish to continue with our task, not allowing our values to be deposited in the cemetery of oblivion. I am sure that I am not plowing in the sea and I am not alone, silence and oblivion will be overcome. Hail Alice Felici!  

 

Alicia Margarita Amelia Felici Chevalier, artistically known as Alice Felici, was one of the most outstanding sopranos of her generation  and one of the most forgotten in our musical history. Beautiful figure and beautiful voice. Her elegance led her  en 1907 to be a candidate for Queen of the Carnival of the Spanish Casino of Ponce. She was the daughter of Domingo Henry Felici-Pieretti and a lady from Ponce, Alicia Chevalier-Chardon. The date of birth and death are under investigation. There is no doubt that his birthplace was Ponce. Alice was the second daughter of six siblings: Matilde, Alice, Palmira, Jorge, Enrique and Elena.  

 

His Felici-Chevalier family  was of great prestige in high society in Puerto Rico, particularly in La Perla del Sur. His father, supported by French capital, was a prominent Corsican emigrant owner, merchant and farmer and one of the main shareholders  of the historic financial institution Credito y Ahorro Ponceño; undisputed leader, in 1903, of the country's Chamber of Commerce; prominent member of the Casino Espanol de Ponce; He was Vice Consul of Belgium in Ponce. He died in 1907. 

 

His maternal uncle Enrique, had a large car factory in 1884; he was a farmer; in 1899 he was elected  Councillor and then Mayor of Ponce for the Republican Party (1900-1904); Marshall of the District Court of Ponce and his residence was located in 1893, in front of Plaza Las Delicias de Ponce. His maternal aunt, Matilde, married Antonio Otero Arce in 1907, one of the owners of Bazar Otero, known for his great contributions to the musical culture of Puerto Rico. His brother Enrique Felici was a landowner and soldier, and his sister Palmira Felici was also a singer, who married A. Miramón  y  he abandoned that career.

 

Both families celebrated dances and weddings of their children in their own residence. They were very fond of parties and during the famous carnivals of Ponce (1903), and on important dates for the City, they offered  to their fabulous friends  dances that lasted until early morning. 

 

Amalia Paoli, a Puerto Rican mezzo-soprano, organized an artistic festival in 1907 at the La Perla Theater in Ponce. She used to invite  the best talent in the City. On that occasion he invited Alice and her sister Palmira to sing: ”The event began with a trio from the comic opera, The Secret Marriage of Cimarosa, and included in the first part of the program the sisters Alice and Palmira Felici and Amalia Paoli. . This trio received much applause.[…] Alice Felici made a Micaela (a character from Bizet's Carmen opera) worthy of the work.

  

Alice entered the Paris Conservatory of Music in the early 1900s. Together with Margarita Callejo, in 1912 and 1913, he received an economic grant from the Chamber of Delegates to continue his studies at that prestigious institution.  

 

Felici was much loved and applauded in and out of her country. In 1911 the respectable Ladies' Club of San Juan organized a beautiful artistic festival for the benefit of Alice Felici, a distinguished student of the Paris Conservatory of Music, where by participating in a contest of singing, he achieved a special accésit or recognition (reward) for his interpretation of an aria from an opera. For that occasion, the City Council of San Juan graciously ceded the Municipal Theater. That night Alice sang the Prayer of the second act of the opera Tosca; an aria from the opera La Traviata and the suite from the second act of Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly. 

  

In 1913 Alice sang at the Municipal Theater of San Juan. The chronicler wrote about the performance of our soprano:

 

Alice Felici, who will soon be an artist acclaimed by all audiences, gave her announced concert last night at the Municipal. It goes without saying how our entire society went to the theater to applaud the gentle Alice, to reward what is already in her as an exquisite artist.  

     Those who heard it last year and listened to the prima donna again this year, say that it is warned in the future prima donna an obvious school progress, which allows us to foresee what Alice will be in several years.  

     In the aria of the opera Rigoletto, in the Spanish song, in the aria of the opera La Traviata duet from the third act of Pescadores de Perlas, was applauded. Her admirers  times covered the proscenium with flowers and at the end of the concert, while the audience applauded wildly, many doves were released and a shower of flowers fell on the artist._cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_

  Miss Felici had a triumphant night. She was the culminating figure, but the other artists also stood out: the other artists stood out as well. Alicia Sicardo and Genoveva de Arteaga.  In 1915 she was invited to sing her special rendition of the prayer from the opera Tosca at the opening of the Ponce Orphan Asylum."

 

In Europe it had important presentations, particularly in Spain and France. In 1924, already quite well known in the European opera scene, she participated in a great Spanish musical party  in the amphitheater of the Sorbonne in Paris and before an audience of more than a thousand people ''...The part The singing was in charge of the eminent Spanish tiple, Alice Felici. She was accompanied on the piano by the valuable Cuban pianist, composer and musicologist of Spanish origin, Joaquin Nin, who interpreted compositions by Pablo Esteve-Grimau, Joaquin Turina, Isaac Alberniz and Manuel de Falla on the piano. That same year she was invited to Madrid to be part of the cast of a concert with an orchestra of 60 prominent musicians conducted by the famous French pianist, conductor, musicologist, and later professor at the Paris Conservatory of Music, Emile Georges Armand Ferte. who accompanied the soprano Alice Felici and the violinist MA Asseln, in a concert at the casino in Dieppe, France, in 1925.

 

In 1928 she participated in the ''Les Amis des Arts'' concert in Paris together with the  artists: the Franco-Italian cellist, violist and pioneer music therapist, disciple of Pablo Casals and of the Paris Conservatory of Music , Juliette Louise Alvin; the renowned quartets of Romuald Vandelle and Albert  Zimmer; and the famous violin virtuoso and professor at the Paris Conservatory of Music, Rene Benedetti. 

 

He establishes his permanent residence in France in 1930 but travels occasionally to Puerto Rico. 

FOTOGRAFIA DE ALICE FELECI  1911  CORTESIA DE RICARDO OLIVENCIA.jpg
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Familia Felici-Chevalier