Marguerite (Florence Foster Jenkins, the French version)
Now that there are two films on the market on the subject of FFJ I caved in and attempted to watch the French one because I’m trying to be sophisticated and go for the non-Hollywood option whenever possible 😉
The film gave me pause in that I realised to my astonishment that my threshhold for snark is a lot lower than I thought. I’ve laughed at opera bloopers with the best of them, I sometimes read in mild desbelief about child cross-over singers and I occasionally leave mean comments on Katherine Jenkins’ youtube videos. That, I thought, qualifies me to watch this carwreck of a story with ease.
Maybe the fact that FFJ hasn’t so far interested me (for snark or otherwise) should’ve tipped me off that there are limits to my schadenfreude. It turned out that worse even than some privileged woman who wants to live the music a bit too ardently was the arseholish Jean Cocteau wannabe who thinks making fun of her in the media means sticking it to the man. Ok, Guy Fawkes.
Before he gets in on the action and writes a ” “glowing” ” article about the
yearly private performance she gives at her property, Marguerite seems like the kind of woman who’d have thrived on karaoke nights. It’s after that she takes delusion to another – fabulous – level.
I stopped watching when (the evening after the show) she lay down on the sofa in her studio/opera shrine and listened to Addio del passato. Maybe it was supposed to mean that she was still riding the high of her (wretched) performance so she imagined herself on stage as Violetta. I don’t know. What I got from that scene was a deep love for the artform. Hell, I have imagined myself on stage as Sesto or Morgana or Argante (oh, yea) – so maybe there’s kindship? Of course, I don’t have pictures of myself dressed as any of them (there’s a funny thought!) nor would I ever entertain anyone with my opera “skills” (Vietnamese cat and fish aside 😉 ). But I get the love for the medium. How can you not want to identify with the one who sings when you hear those fat sounds? I have a suspicion that when we’re in the hall we’re all singing along in spirit.
So here’s where my schadenfreude stops. By contrast, tsk-ing at people who should know better – have studied voice or are actually paid for their singing skills – seems like a different thing altogether. This is more like kicking a sick puppy.