Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Florence Foster Jenkins - Famous or Infamous Singer?

"Florence Foster Jenkins," a film starring Meryl Streep opens this week.  The title character was a real woman who used her wealth to indulge in her passion: classical singing.  She founded a musical club, the Verdi Club of New York, which continues its work today.  She performed for the club and other private venues, unwittingly becoming a laughingstock of musical cognoscenti.  In 1944 she rented Carnegie Hall and the secret was out.

She recorded nine songs and arias, which have been re-released on an album titled, "The Glory (????) Of the Human Voice."  Perhaps her most famous (or infamous) performance is Mozart's "Queen of the Night" aria from the Magic Flute (Die Zauberflote).  This aria has some of the highest notes and most demanding passages in the operatic repertoire.  Most sopranos would not dare to attempt it, but Florence Foster Jenkins sang it... terribly.

To hear her voice for yourself, check out the recording via Naxos Music Library (log in required from off campus).

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