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Florence Foster Jenkins - the dire diva of din!

4th November 2005

Florence Foster Jenkins, an American socialite who vanity-produced her own recordings of her soprano atrocities and even funded her own solo appearance at Carnegie Hall in 1944 and was variously dubbed “the dire diva of din” and “first lady of the sliding scale”.

By a bizarre coincidence, she’s also the subject of two different plays simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic: Maureen Lipman stars in Peter Quilter’s Glorious! (at the Duchess Theatre in a transfer from Birmingham Rep), while on Broadway, Judy Kaye stars in Stephen Temperley’s Souvenir (at the Lyceum).

But in fact neither got there first: both were pipped to the post by fringe plays in Edinburgh and London. In 2001, Jean Boht starred in Viva La Diva at the Edinburgh Fringe’s Pleasance, while last year Valda Aviks starred in When Florence Met Isadora at the fringe Rosemary Branch.

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