Sunday, May 8, 2016

beloved catastrophe

 There is something in equal measure ludicrous and touching about the person of Florence Foster Jenkins, a woman devoted not just to opera but also to the performance thereof. She couldn't carry a note in a hand basket and yet she was apparently both loved and derided for her sweet sincerity.
Florence Foster Jenkins was a 20th-Century US socialite and music-lover who styled herself as an operatic coloratura soprano and became a sensation. One of the most famous singers of her day, she was incredibly rich, a generous philanthropist, and garnered legions of fans including celebrities such as Noël Coward. Florence’s fame, however, rested not on her musical talent, but rather its opposite. Her astonishingly bad voice and abject inability – seemingly unbeknownst to her – to pitch correctly became the stuff of legend as she worked hard to lovingly massacre her way through gems by Mozart, Strauss and other leading composers.

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