I also have a very sore index finger from a rotary cutter accident this afternoon, so I won’t be as wordy as I’d like to be.  I know, I know, but courage!

Backstory:  I’ve been learning about opera by listening to The Teaching Company’s CDs by Robert Greenberg (no relation).  He’s a fantastic, infectiously enthusiastic lecturer and he’s really gotten me interested in opera–an area of music I’d previously scorned.  (Except for Mozart, particularly The Magic Flute.  Seeing Amadeus in high school literally changed me and shaped my taste.  I was blown away by the Queen of the Night’s Aria, “Die Holle Rache” [insert relevant umlauts yourself, I can’t be bothered {and I need to go one more just to show off my bracket prowess}] and have held affection for that opera ever since.)  The only thing I don’t like about these Teaching Company CDs is that they cannot tell you who is performing a given piece.  The recording of the Queen of the Night’s aria on the Great Masters: Mozart Cd was breathtaking.  I want to know who it was.  I want that recording.

I did a Google search, trying to find the best recording of the Queen of the Night’s aria and I found my new hero.  Florence Foster Jenkins was an early 20th Century socialite who decided to sing opera.  She was unswayed by those who told her she had no sense of rhythm, pitch, or tone.  She gave grand recitals, wearing homemade costumes that sometimes featured wings or tinsel.  When some in the audience laughed, she dismissed them as “jealous rivals.”  She became enormously popular and when, at age 76, she was finally convinced to give a concert at Carnegie Hall, it sold out weeks in advance.  She was aware of her critics and said, “People may say I can’t sing, but no one can ever say I didn’t sing.”  I. love. her.  And, Ceiling Cat bless the internets, there are recordings of her.  She quite literally sucked out loud, and died 60 years ago, but she’s still out there.

Here, here’s the best recording of the aria I’ve found on YouTube:

And here, bless her heart, is Florence Foster Jenkins:

Die Holle Rache. Kind of.

Gives me the courage to sing it loud and sing it proud.  I’ll play Eponine yet!

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