Bruno Dolf

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.

Having previously only been seen in private at New York women’s clubs or in her own establishment, the Verdi Club, such was the demand for her performances that she went on to sell out Carnegie Hall in a 1944 concert that has entered the annals of music history. While her public performances also raised millions of dollars (in today’s terms) for charity, the abiding image is that of polite society guffawing, jaws clenched, trying not to roll down the aisles with laughter as they showered her with thunderous applause.

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