Magazine article Opera Canada

Florence Foster Jenkins: A World of Her Own

Magazine article Opera Canada

Florence Foster Jenkins: A World of Her Own

Article excerpt

FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS: A WORLD OF HER OWN

VAI 4431

For more than 60 years, the outlandish vocal pyrotechnics of the eccentric American heiress-socialite-cum-soprano, Florence Foster Jenkins, has regaled the music world through the small, but rich, legacy of recordings she made in the 1940s for the Melotone Recording Studio in New York. In reviewing the Queen of the Nights Act II vengeance aria from Mozart's Die Zauberflote, Jenkins' first and perhaps most famous recording, Time wrote with obvious relish: "Mrs. Jenkins' nightqueenly swoops and hoots, her wild wallowings in descending trills, her repeated staccato notes like a cuckoo in its cups, are innocently uproarious to hear." The review concluded: "Mrs. Jenkins is well pleased with the success of her Queen of the Night record and hopes to make others. Her fans hope so, too."

Jenkins was so "well pleased" that she would occasionally put her guests on the spot by playing three different versions of the aria--the first by Luisa Tetrazzini, the second by Frieda Hempel and the third by herself When her defenceless subjects were asked which they preferred, they invariably chose hers. …

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