I randomly came across this movie when it was on free to air TV a couple of weeks ago, and it was amazing. Based on the life of a real person – and I actually looked up the real woman and was happy to see how historically accurate the movie is – Florence Foster Jenkins tells the story of a Gilded Age New York socialite who, near the end of her life, decides she has what it takes to become a famous opera singer.
The problem? She can’t sing to save herself. She becomes infamous rather than famous.
This is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. You laugh and laugh … and then suddenly you’re crying because it really is a tragic story.
Meryl Streep actually trained as an opera singer (something I just learnt), and – much like the character of Carlotta in The Phantom of the Opera – in order to sing badly, you first have to learn to sing properly.
The real woman really was an appalling singer, and because she paid to have records of her voice made, you can listen to her even now. She’s even worse than in the movie.
The costumes in this movie are worth your time alone.
Streep was ROBBED of the Oscar for this performance (it went to La La Land that year), and both Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg (who is most famous as a sitcom actor, but who is actually a trained concert pianist) were nominated for Golden Globes for their parts. They’re both brilliant, too.
1895 poster advertising the opera’s original run. X
Thaïs, a opera by Jules Massenet, had its premiere at the Opéra Garnier in Paris on the 16th of March, 1894.
Sibyl Sanderson in 1891
Massenet wrote the title role for American soprano Sibyl Sanderson, who performed in the premiere.
Jules Massenet in 1895
A famously difficult opera to perform, a revised version was presented at the same theatre four years after the first performance, though the production remains reserved for only the most talented singers.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s famous opera, The Magic Flute, premiered in Vienna on the 30th of September, 1791.
The playbill for the premiere.
Emanuel Schikaneder, who wrote the German libretto, hosted the premiere at his theatre, the Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden. Mozart conducted the orchestra, while Schikaneder performed in the show alongside Mozart’s sister-in-law.
Mozart’s sister-in-law, Josepha Hofer.
The opera was immediately considered a success, though no reviews of the first performance exist.
Richard Wagner’s last completed opera Parsifal had its premiere in Bayreuth, Germany on the 26th of July 1882.
Advertising for the first performances.
A tradition has arisen that the audience does not applaud after the first act, in order to maintain the mood of the story.
In an attempt to preserve the integrity of the production Wagner only allowed the opera to be performed at the Bayreuth Festival. However this began to change after his death the following year. By 1884 some theatres in other countries were staging the opera.