Recently, I borrowed a CD from my local library of recordings by the once famous , or notorious American soprano ? Forence Foster Jenkins , who my have been the worst snger in the history of the vocal art . This eccentric lady , who managed to make a successful career despite her apprent lack of any vocal talent or musicianship , is one of the most curious stories in the history of classical music .
She was born the daughter of a wealthy banker in Wilkes Barre Pennsylvnia in 1868 and was a total amateur . She studied voice in Europe despite a lack of ny talent , and when her father died in 1909 she inherited enough to begin making a career of sorts on her own .
Jenkins' singing is so awful it's fun ! She could not sing on pitch to sve her life , her rhythmic accurcy was non-existent and she sounded like a wounded duck ! Her pronunciation of foreign languages was comically bad . But audiences loved her demented caterwauling ! In a sense, she may have been the first performance artist , active long before the term was invented .
She would perform in elaborate and ridiculous-looking costumes of her own design , including one with angel's wings , changing at least twice during recitals . She was able to book even prestigious Carnegie hall for herself , nd her recitals were egerly awaited and actually sold out ! Her accompanist was the grotesquely-named Cosmo Mc Moon , who was able to adjust to her rhythmic and musical ineptitude and even wrote some songs for her . She tried to tackle some very difficult operatic arias with hilariously disastrous results , such as the fiendishly difficult revenge aria of the Queen of the Night in Mozart's famous opera The Magic Flute .
On the recording, you can hear how she is totally unable to reach the dizzying high notes of this aria and is off by a mile ! The ironic thing is that she always considered herself to be a serious singer ! The CD is on the R.C..A. label . If you're unable to find it. check youtube, which has wealth of performances by famous classical musicians . It's a blast !
For nearly a year, the classical music world has been wringing its collective hands over the plight of the members of the Minnesota orchestra of Minneapolis , an orchestra with a long and illustrious history . Due to protracted disagreements with the orchestra's management over salary nd benefits etc , the musicians have been locked out by the intransigent individuals who run the orchestra , particularly its general manager, who shall remain nameless here .
It's almost time for the beginning of the orchestra's 2013-14 season , and no way through the impasse is in sight . The orchestra's music director and chief conductor , the distinguished Finnish maestro Osmo Vanska , has threatened to resign if the orchestra does not settle the lockout in time for the new season, which includes appearnces at Carnegie hall . Thisw is a pity, because the orchestra has been enjoying international acclaim under Vanska's leadership and had begun to make commercial studio recordings , incluidng an acclaimed set of all 9 Beethoven symphonies at a time when very few orchestras anywhere are making commercil stuido recordings becuse of economic difficulties .
Sessions to record symphonies by Sibelius, a specialty of the maestro given his Finnish nationality , have been cancelled . Several musicians in the orchestra have successfully auditioned for positions in other major U.S. orchestras . The fate of one of America's finest orchestra is uncertin, an orchestra which had flourished under the dirrection of such eminent conductors as Dimitri Mitropoulos, Antal Dorati,Stanislaw Skrowaczewski and Edo DeWaart .
The orchestra has called on the government of the state of Minnesota for help , but no end to the mess is in sight . The musicians nd the management are at each others throats , but the management will not give in . If you are a Minnesota resident, PLEASE contact your local representiatives and the two Minnesota senators and sk them to intervene . The fate of one of America's finest orchestras is at stake .