20 December 2010

The glory (???) of the human voice

(Madame Jenkins's LP, RCA Red Seal, LM-2597)

As requested by Hongyi, an old friend, here we have a 'hauntingly beautiful' masterpiece, an essential recording made by Florence Foster Jenkins, a would-be American soprano who made her name by showing complete absence of any sense of pitch and rhythm and thus singing ability.

Listen to 'Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen' (Hell's vengeance boils in my heart), an aria, which is better knows as The Queen of the Night Aria, from Mozart's opera Die Zauberflöte (The magic flute).

See, it is absolutely a demonstration of Madame Jenkins' s great passion for singing but complete deficiency of aptitude for engaging in this demanding activity. I particularly revere the piano accompanist Cosmé McMoon, who had exhibited great musicality, as well as tolerance, by offering such a vital instrumental background for the singing.

However, this recording is unique and, I believe, has an immensely uplifting effect. I actually came to know 'The Queen of the Night Aria' through this hauntingly beautiful version and therefore had it imprinted so deeply on my mind that for a long while the normal rendition by, for example, Kiri Te Kanawa would sound abnormal to me.


Donald Collup said...

I would like to recommend to you my documentary on Florence Foster Jenkins called "Florence Foster Jenkins: A World Of Her Own". It tells the complete uncensored story of her life and tragic end.

It is available from VAI (www.vaimusic.com) or from me (donald@collup.com)

Donald Collup

Wei said...

Thank you Donald for your recommendation. It would be of great interest to my colleagues and students and I'll refer it to the university library.