films, comedy, etc.

A Connecticut Yankee
(Rodgers & Hart) starring
Eddy Albert

Alfred Drake and Patricia Morison
Kiss Me, Kate


Florence Foster Jenkins
A World of Her Own

Carmen (1915 film)
starring Geraldine Farrar
Directed by Cecil B. DeMille

Don Quixote
Feodor Chaliapin

8th Van Cliburn Competition
Here to Make Music

Lotte Lehmann:
Master Class: Opera
Master Class: Lieder

- First Family of the Piano

Anna Russell:
First Farewell Concert
Crown Princess of Comedy

The Great Waltz
Munsel, Novotna

The Mikado
D’Oyly Carte

Naughty Marietta
Munsel, Drake

Glory of Spain
De Los Angeles,
De Laroccha, Segovia

La Gran Scena
Opera parodies by the
hilarious all-male troupe
Vera: Life of a Diva
Vera Galupe-Borszkh looks back
Vera Galupe Borszkh in Recital
produced by the founder of
La Gran Scena Opera Company!

PDQ Bach, Abduction of Figaro
Peter Schickele's zany comedy

What The Universe Tells Me

A Film About
Mahler's Third Symphony
- narrated by Stockard Channing

The Lovers' Exile (Chikamatsu)

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Florence Foster Jenkins: A World of Her Own
VAI DVD 4431, $24.95

Infamous. Sad. Bizarre. Incomprehensible. All these words (and more) apply to a club woman of the first half of the twentieth century who firmly thought she was a great singer: Florence Foster Jenkins. Until now, very little was known about her, her life, her wealth, her loves and her tragic end. This documentary, written, produced and narrated by Donald Collup, most purposefully does not make fun of this eccentric socialite but tells the complete and uncensored story of this cult figure who entertained Manhattan audiences for over three decades. 89 minutes, with copious archival images and audio interviews with people who knew her and attended her infamous 1944 Carnegie Hall concert. $24.95 Color/B&W, All regions

A World Of Her Own

Written/Produced/Narrated by Donald Collup

Associate Producers:
Ted Rodenborn
Jeffrey Shaw

Audio Remastering:
Joe Fuller
André Gauthier

A DCzDVDz Production

After two decades of research, noted collector Gregor Benko has brought to the fore dozens of articles and over 30 images of Mme. Jenkins that have not been seen for more than half a century. Playwright Elinor Jones colorfully reads reviews and notices about the deluded diva.

Commentary includes:

• Excerpts from an interview with three friends and colleagues of Florence Foster Jenkins: Kathleen Bayfield, Florence Darnault and Adolf Pollitz plus comments from Miss Jenkin’s accompanist Cosme McMoon

• Reminiscences from three witnesses to the “night of nights,” the Carnegie Hall recital by Jenkins of October 25, 1944: Marge Champion, Alfred Hubay and Daniel Pinkham


Discovering Mme. Jenkins
When I was a member of the Texas Boys Choir, we were always treated
to recordings before rehearsal every afternoon. The director,
George Bragg, introduced us to many great masterpieces of music -
Bach, Brahms, etc. On one of these afternoons, he played for us a
recording of this hysterically funny lady singing all sorts of
things. In spite of our young age but because of our expert
training, we knew this was not good - off-key , bad rhythm and rather
ugly singing. The following September 19, 1965, I purchased my very
first LP ever, “Florence Foster Jenkins: The Glory (????) Of The
Human Voice” (I remember the date as my mother wrote it on the back
of the RCA LP). Three years later, when I was cast as First Spirit
in the Santa Fe Opera’s production of “The Magic Flute,” I heard the
great dramatic coloratura Rita Shane, and finally realized how the
Queen of the Night really should be sung: on pitch, in tempo and not
sound as if it’s killing her.

Often, the voice of Florence Foster Jenkins is introduced with a
single, somewhat sarcastic sentence to entice the listener and
nothing else, letting the recording sing for itself. Metropolitan
Opera soprano Lucine Amara tells the story of preparing Marietta’s
Lied from “Die tote Stadt” with its composer, Erich Wolfgang
Korngold. After their session, he told her he wanted her to hear
“ this wonderful singer.” She sat at his feet as she listened in
horror. After it was finished he asked what she thought. She then
said, “Well, it was most interesting” which absolutely broke him up.
It was only then she realized he had been joking all along. In a
similar way, Marge Champion, Alfred Hubay and Daniel Pinkham knew
next to nothing about what they were to experience at Carnegie Hall
in 1944.

When I met the noted author and collector Gregor Benko, he told me
bits of information and stories about Jenkins that were extremely
intriguing. His personal collection of materials about Jenkins was
vast and extensive: over the years, he had acquired parts of the
collections of Jenkins’ accompanist Edwin McArthur and former Opera
News editor Gerald Fitzgerald, plus twenty years of detailed off-and-
on research, creating a chronological database of Jenkins’ life and
career. This also included dozens of extremely rare images that had
not been seen for almost sixty years. Benko also gave me access to a
tape recording made by the Australian pianist Bruce Hungerford. In
1970, Hungerford realized that he was acquainted with three people
who knew or interacted with Jenkins: Kathleen Bayfield, the second
wife of Jenkins’ second (common law) husband; Adolf Pollitz, a friend
of Jenkins and participant in her club activities, and the sculptress
Florence Darnault, from whom Jenkins commissioned a bust. During
this conversation, the three subjects reminisced candidly without
censure and told personal anecdotes about Jenkins. In addition, Ms.
Bayfield reads from her memoirs the chapter concerned with Florence
Foster Jenkins.

Hopefully, this documentary will dispel rumors and eradicate false
stories that have been concocted over the years. I also have chosen
not to make fun of this ecentric socialite, but only tell her story,
which stands on its own. At the same time, the documentary puts
forth medical and psychological information, unknown until now, for
the viewer to draw their own conclusion as to why Jenkins became a
cult figure.

Jenkins’ career as a child prodigy seemingly created her false
perception of reality: one of audiences acclaiming her talent and
showering her with praise. This most likely formed the basis of her
total confidence and, in the words of Daniel Pinkham, her intrepid
delivery. Also, mercury treatments, which began in her early
twenties, certainly had an effect on her hearing, as did the disease
for which she was being treated.

We shall never know what Florence Foster Jenkins actually sounded
like in her middle-aged “prime” but, as Gregor Benko points out,
musicianship does not degrade as time goes on, nor does the
fascination with this endearing and utterly unique lady of song.

Donald Collup
New York, 2007

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