Her performance was never exactly an aesthetic experience, or only to the degree that an early Christian among the lions provided aesthetic experience; it was chiefly immolatory, and Madame Jenkins was always eaten, in the end.
- William Meredith
|The not-divine Mrs. Jenkins|
But what about someone who wasn't good, and wasn't shy? That would be Florence Foster Jenkins, a wealthy socialite who had enough money to produce her own recitals - staring herself, of course - but who didn't have enough self-awareness to realize just how stunningly bad she was.
This piece by Mozart is famously difficult. Here's the divine Maria Callas doing it properly so you know what it should sound like:
The vocal fireworks start about 40 seconds in. You'll notice that this piece was not for the faint of heart.
Fortunately (or unfortunately), Mrs. Jenkins was not faint of heart. But fools rush in where Angels fear to tread. Warning: this is without doubt the worst performance of this ever recorded:
She was called the "Anti-Callas" for good reason. What's funny is that Jenkins became quite popular, and regular attendees at her performances included Enrico Caruso and Cole Porter. She attracted the loyalty of quite an impressive audience because she was completely fearless. A few years back they made a film about her:
This Mother's Day I hope that all the Moms sing as fearlessly as Mrs. Jenkins, for the joy of it - even if they don't have the voice of a Maria Callas or The Queen Of The World.