Monday, August 31, 2009

Operatic turkeys

This morning an email directed my attention to a hilarious YouTube recording of Florence Foster Jenkins singing Mozart.I said,"OK, I'm game.Let's hear it." It turned out to be HILARIOUS and I replayed it 4 times, at least.What made it even funnier was every turkey and rooster came running over to the house and gathered outside my dining room window to listen and sing along with her!! The whole crowd of turkeys was there purring, clucking and singing along with roosters crowing.It was like Times Square on New Years Eve.You can't make this stuff up!! My husband was trying to sleep upstairs with this loud rackett going on and I'm rolling on the floor laughing.Now I know the perfect turkey call for next hunting season~ the Florence Foster Jenkins call.They will come running from every tree and hiding spot as I walk through the woods playing her recordings.

Below is a newspaper account of her performances and here is the YouTube address so YOU TOO can start your day with a laugh.

New York Daily News, Big Town

"She had enthusiasm, and she had enough money to finance her operatic career.

What she didn't have was talent.

For 30 years, Manhattan's upper crust paid good money to hear this hefty woman murder the melodies. Her name was Florence Foster Jenkins: the dire diva of din, the caterwauling countess of cacophony. At private recitals, she usually donned her Angel of Inspiration costume, a tulle gown and a tinsel tiara buttressed with a pair of feathered wings that made her resemble an overgrown turkey. To the accompaniment of a beleaguered pianist who rejoiced in the name Cosme McMoon, she would launch into her opening number, usually the Queen of the Night's aria from Mozart's "Magic Flute." The audience got caught full-blast with a sound like alley cats pitching whoopee.

She billed herself as a coloratura soprano, but Florence Foster Jenkins couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. Her voice shifted abruptly between a shriek and a whisper. Utterly tone-deaf, she wandered all over the scale, occasionally singing the right note by sheer accident. When attempting the high notes of an aria, her mouth would continue forming the words but no sound would emerge from her throat. Audience members would cram handkerchiefs into their mouths to muffle their guffaws.

After mangling "The May Night" by Brahms, La Jenkins would announce a brief intermission, then return dressed as Carmen, with a lace shawl and jeweled combs, clutching castanets and a wicker basket of red roses. The audience would remain riveted while she screeched her way through the Spanish waltz "Clavelitos," clicking the castanets and tossing the roses out one by one. When she ran out of roses, she flung the basket too. And then she threw the castanets.

Her fans - and she had many - knew that "Clavelitos" was her favorite song, so there were usually calls for an encore. This prompted her to send Cosme McMoon into the audience to retrieve roses, basket and castanets. Props back in hand, she would sing the entire number again.

After another intermission came the grand finale, and this time the matronly madame would return costumed as the dainty chambermaid Adele from "Die Fledermaus." Her closing number was usually that opera's "Laughing Song" - a good choice, since by this point the audience could no longer suppress their gleeful howls. She always finished to thunderous applause. Possibly accompanied by the rattles of dead composers turning over in their graves.

Florence Foster Jenkins died at the age of 76 fully believing she could not only sing but sing beautifully.

Here is a youtube video of Florence Foster Jenkins' infamous rendition of "Der Holle Rache" - Mozart's "Queen of the Night" aria from "The Magic Flute". But I caution, it can be unbearable to listen to if you have a musical ear. "


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