Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mozart - Queen of the Night

What if you had a voice so outstanding that Mozart wrote an aria that only you could sing?  And what happens when someone else tries to sing it?

Mozart's sister-in-law Josepha Hofer had an astonishingly high range and a voice that "agile" in the extreme.  Mozart wrote an aria that sounds nearly impossible to sing.  The fireworks start around 40 seconds in.

This has always been considered an intimidating piece to perform, one that separates the truly great sopranos from the rest of the pack.  Of course, some sopranos rush in where Angels fear to tread.

Florence Jenkins was one of these.  Her self-regard was not matched by her tone, pitch, or range, but because she was independently wealthy she acquired the reputation as the worst soprano in the world.  She wasn't just bad, she was famously bad.  Fortunately, she made a record, which (if you are up to it) you can listen to at Wikipedia.  Don't say you haven't been warned.

The best and the worst, sublime and ridiculous.  There's often just a hair's breadth between them.


Dave H said...

Are you sure Jenkins wasn't just singing along with her iPod in that Wikipedia clip?

Southern Belle said...

OH my god! I thought you were just kidding about Jenkins' voice! I got about 5 seconds in and had to close out wiki!

I thought I sang bad!

Sherm said...

My dad bought us a copy of Jenkins' record when we were kids. He wanted us to enjoy just how bad bad could be. Nice to be able to think back on that. No, I did not listen again today as a reminder.

JohnMXL said...

I wonder if the Diva Plavalaguna's performance in "The Fifth Element" was inspired by this piece.

Guffaw in AZ said...

The clip performance is remarkable.

Lissa said...

Ohhhhhh, the Vengeance Aria. My range is *just* short of being able to do it and that is sad ;-(