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Archive for April 2nd, 2009

Florence Foster Jenkins Relived

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Ciao tutti,

I finally got to see “Souvenir” at ACT tonight. We used to listen to Jenkins recordings about a century ago when I was in college, so I had to see what theater had come up with to represent her life.

Initially the preview tickets were cheap, but by the time I was ready to go they were way too expensive, so I decided to try to usher . . . they wouldn’t accept request for less than a week in advance, so I called the ticket office and mentioned that I was a singer. He said they had special code ticket called “singer4″ which would get me a ticket in the high balcony for $7.00, so off I went. It was fine with my opera glasses, very clear.

It was very professionally done and I had been wondering how it would be to hear too much of her horrendous singing for an entire play. Fortunately, they only used short blurbs to show how bad she was. I actually felt that Judy Kaye, the actress who played Jenkins was a little over the top in her badness, a little too screechy, especially since she is a legitimate and classically trained singer in her own right and while Jenkins herself sang horribly, the recordings that I have do sort of sound like a singer! It was touching how Cosme McMoon, her accompanist “danced around” the truth that she was horrible for 12 years as her accompanist and they eventually learned to care deeply for each other.

The peak was reached in the latter part when she sang much more, though not for entire pieces and in an array of incredible costumes, which was one of her signatures. By the time she sang at Carnegie Hall they had to turn away 2,000 people, even if they came to snicker under their breath at her and they infer that she was aware of how she was a laughing stock. The reviews, now that was truly singing publicly were devastating and she had a heart attack a month later . . . she was in her 70s. In the play they claim that it wasn’t that she finally learn the truth about her voice. Who can say?

In an ironic conclusion Ms. Kaye finally sang Gounod’s “Ave Maria” as McMoon suggests Jenkins probably hear herself in her deluded head. It was a sweet closing after all the costumes and squalling, although for people like ourselves, her real voice is beyond its prime. Yet it was a nice conclusion and the general public ate it up.

I’m glad I went, even if I was a little disappointed because I’ve been wanting to go ever since I heard it was happening.

Just thought I’d share my little “review” with you. I can’t honestly say I would recommend anyone rush to see it before it closes next weekend, unless you really want to see what they’ve come up with and/or are kind weirdly fascinated with Florence Foster Jenkins strange delusional perception that she could actually sing.

Richard Fey

Opera Concert in the Park – October 25, 2008

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Program

Je veux vivre Roméo et Juliette by Gounod

Jennie Litster

Tutti fior Madama Butterfly by Puccini

Katya Roemer/Lisa van der Ploeg

Till there was you The Music Man by Meredith Willson

Ellen St. Thomas

Stride la vampa! Il Trovatore by Verdi

Heather McFadden

Vissi d’arte Tosca by Puccini

Katya Roemer

Some Enchanted Evening South Pacific by Rodgers and Hammerstein II

Leland Morine

Nessun dorma Turandot by Puccini

Fred Winthrop

Ist ein Traum, kann nicht wirklich sein Der Rosenkavalier by Strauss

Nicole Raynor Rodriquez/Kendra Dodd

Tanzlied des Pierrot Die tote Stadt by Korngold

Nicolai Janitzky

Voi, che sapete Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart

Elizabeth Baker

Non so piu cosa son, cosa faccio Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart

Kendra Dodd

Dalla sua pace Don Giovanni by Mozart

Taylor Thompson

Soave sia il vento Cosi fan tutte by Mozart

Jennie Litster, Lisa van der Ploeg, Leland Morine

O mon fils Robert le Diable by Meyerbeyer

Heather McFadden

Dearest Mama The Ballad of Baby Doe by Douglas Moore

Nicole Raynor Rodriguez

My hand Belinda Dido and Aenas by Purcell

Elizabeth Baker

Caro nome Rigoletto by Verdi

Marta Johansen

Bella figlia del amore Rigoletto by Verdi

Marta Johansen, Heather McFadden, Fred Winthrop, Leland Morine

Voi lo sapete Cavalleria Rusticana by Leoncavello

Lisa van der Ploeg

Yeletsky’s aria: Ya vas lyublyu Queen of Spades by Tchaikovsky

Nicolai Janitzky