Bootle, L20 7EW, UK
Marguerite d'Alvarez (c. 1883 - 18 October 1953) was an English contralto. A life-long opera lover and a leading opera critic of the 1910s, Carl Van Vechten admired Marguerite d’Alvarez’s rich voice and powerful performance style. In an April 22, 1920 advertisement for an d’Alvarez performance, he wrote: Marguerite d’Alvarez may be regarded as one of the most unique singers before the public. God, the good fairies, and the Fates have united to endow her with ten or a dozen qualities, any one of which would be sufficient to give her a notable position. . . . She is gifted with a most extraordinary contralto voice of great range and flexibility, and of a mellow and luscious quality. D’Alvarez was quite fond of Carl Van Vechten, too, and of his wife Fania Marinoff. Of meeting d’Alvarez, Anna May Wong wrote to Marinoff, “one person I simply adore and have only met this trip is Marguerite d’Alvarez. She is so fond of you and talks of you and Carl incessantly. Even if I had not had an instantaneous affection for her, I would have loved her for her devotion to you both.”
Marguerite d'Alvarez was born in Bootle, her father was Peruvian and her mother French. She studied at the Brussels conservatoire, and made her debut in Rouen in 1907, singing Delilah. After further studies in Paris she made her first American appearances with the Manhattan Opera Company in 1909 as Fidès in Giacomo Meyerbeer's Le prophète. Following her season in New York City, she went to London to help Oscar Hammerstein inaugurate his London Opera in 1911; that year, she scored great successes in French roles. d'Alvarez subsequently appeared at leading European opera houses such as Covent Garden, and also sang in Chicago and Boston. She made several acoustic recordings in New York in 1920-21, including arias from her operatic repertoire and Spanish songs by Falla, Chapi and Tabuyo. She made three films, Till We Meet Again, in 1944, An Angel Comes to Brooklyn (1945) and Affair in Monte Carlo (1953); her autobiography, Forsaken Altars, was published in 1954, after her death in Alassio, Italy, where she was vacationing.
by Carl Van Vechten
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