Jenkins, Florence Foster. (1868-1944)
1944 Carnegie Hall Recital - Original Program
A very rare original program from the notoriously awful soprano's 1944 Carnegie Hall recital, her last and only public performance. Jenkins, assisted by her regular pianist, Cosmé McMoon, performed songs and arias by Gluck, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and others (some in costume) and a world-premiere by André Kostelanetz, commissioned for the recital. The sold-out audience included Lily Pons, Kostelanetz, Cole Porter, Marge Champion, Kitty Carlisle, Gian-Carlo Menotti and others. She died only a month after the recital. Jenkins' name and the date are noted in pen at the top corner of the program cover; some light wear and tape remnants on several interior pages, but overall in very good condition. 15 pp. 7.5 x 10.25 inches (19.5 x 26 cm).
Florence Foster Jenkins, an American girl born in 1868 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to a well-to-do family, has become a legend as “the world’s worst opera singer.” She made some vanity 78 rpm records for the Mel-o-tone label during World War Two, and in October 1944 hired Carnegie Hall for a recital. The bad reviews that resulted from that recital were said to break her heart and she died a few weeks later at age 76, but the recordings have kept her name and her art alive. In recent years there have been several plays about her, and this year there are three full-length movies. The first, a French comedy-drama titled “Marguerite,” was released earlier this year. A second, produced in Britain and starring Meryl Streep as Jenkins, is being released in the USA in August, 2016, and later this year a German docu-drama starring soprano Joyce di Donato as Jenkins will premiere. Two different full-length biographies of Jenkins have appeared within the last weeks in England, one by Darryl Bullock and the other by Jasper Rees. However, autograph material and other historical memorabilia of Jenkins is of the utmost rarity.