Jenkins, Florence Foster. (1868-1944)
1943 Recital at the Ritz-Carlton - Original Program
A very rare original program from one of the notoriously awful soprano's private song recitals, held at the Ritz-Carlton on November 4, 1943. The program included "Old English Songs," the "Bell Song" from Lakmé, and "Like a Bird," a song with music by her accompanist Cosme McMoon and words by Jenkins herself -- which are printed on a separate insert. The cover features a halftone photograph of Jenkins in a hat and a string of pearls, while the inside cover shows her in her "Angel of Inspiration" costume. Noted in pen are her encores to the program: an aria from "Die Fledermaus" and "The Music Box." 3 pp. Folding creases, some small tears and wear to the edges, but overall in very good condition. 6.25 x 10 inches (16 x 25.4 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.