Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Most Astounding Opera Diva You've Ever Heard

Opera Divas. Beverly Sills and Maria Callas immediately come to mind.

But have you ever heard of Florence Foster Jenkins?

She lived from 1868 to 1944 and the woman truly loved opera. When her father passed away, leaving her buckets of money, she began to rent out ballrooms at the Ritz Carlton in New York City and perform her favorite arias.

Word got around about her incredible voice and, soon, tickets were hard to come by. She was thoroughly convinced of her abilities and critics always managed to review her performances in a flattering, but in an obscure manner.

The woman couldn't carry a tune. Whatsoever.

That didn't stop her. For decades, she soldiered on, singing to packed audiences. Her costumes and staging were just as flamboyant and notorious as her amazing voice. Tinsel wings, headgear and baskets of flowers which she tossed into the audience were not unknown to her. At one performance, she became so carried away with the flower-tossing that the basket followed as well.

Soon before her death in 1944, she managed to record some of her favorite works and even performed to a sold out audience in Carnegie Hall.

I'm going to link you to a 1944 recording of her singing Mozart's "Queen of the Night" aria from "The Magic Flute." This aria is notorious because it has the highest notes ever written for the human voice. There are seven high F's in the piece.
Florence manages to hit one of them.

She also donated most of her wealth to worthy causes, most of which served the homeless.
She truly loved making people happy.

How many people can you say that about?

She was once quoted as saying, "Some people have said I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing!"

I love this woman!

Click here for the recording. Hold on to your seatbelts.

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At 11:58 AM , Blogger Lorraine said...

Oh. I see. You had a tape recorder in your shower while we were there. That was not nice.

At 6:16 PM , Anonymous the neighbor said...

A couple of months ago I saw a play in Seattle at the ACT Theater about her - it was fabulous. There were only two characters - Florence and her accompanist who was also the first person narrator of the play. What an amazing story! She had no idea whatsoever how bad she sounded. The woman who played Florence was wonderful!

xo the nayb

At 9:52 AM , Blogger Jon said...

Nayb! I've heard of that play and I'd LOVE to see it!! When I come out there, we will have to "talk Florence".


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