Three-time Academy Award Winning

Three-time Academy Award winner Streep stars as one of the worst opera singers of all time

Starring role: Meryl Streep (pictured) will play Florence Foster Jenkins, in a film about one of the worst opera singers of all timeStarring role: Meryl Streep (pictured) will play Florence Foster Jenkins, in a film about one of the worst opera singers of all time

Streep was familiar with the recordings Jenkins produced and distributed herself, as well as the ‘peculiarity of her voice’, and gives a poignant portrait of a woman lost in her own world.

‘Part of what is endearing about Florence is that recordings today are so produced — on the records Florence made, you could hear her breathing, sometimes in the wrong places. She’d take a breath, and come in late.’

Streep said she tried to learn all the arias Jenkins sang. ‘I did as well as I could, ’ she told me, matter-of-factly. And then she had to learn how to sing them badly.

Incredibly, Jenkins is remembered more fondly than many singers with perfect pitch. ‘David Bowie put out a list of his 25 favourite recordings of all time — and included her!’ she adds.

Streep will star alongside Hugh Grant, who plays the much-maligned singer's husband (pictured the pair on the Graham Norton Show)To the end of her life, she never realised that she couldn’t carry a tune.Michael Crawford (pictured) will be joined by Stuart Ward and Gemma Sutton in Richard Taylor and David Wood’s musical version of the novel The Go-Between Streep, on the other hand, can actually sing well when she has to. She said Jenkins reminded her of when ‘my kids would get up in the living room and do shows for the gathered relatives at Christmas.

‘We weren’t allowed to leave, and we weren’t allowed to laugh. Those were the rules. And so you have to sit there, and not hurt anybody’s feelings. They worked so hard — and it’s perfectly awful! — but we love them. Not just because they are our children. It’s the commitment that’s irresistible.’

Streep said Imelda Staunton's performance of Mamma Rose in the play Gypsy (pictured) was 'magnificent'She said it was like that with Jenkins. People admired her enthusiasm. Initially, Jenkins gave private concerts during which her audience cheered her on. But in 1944 she hired Carnegie Hall and the critics bared their teeth — and her husband couldn’t hide the reviews from her.

Streep will star alongside Hugh Grant, who plays the much-maligned singer's husband (pictured the pair on the Graham Norton Show)

Streep said she sympathised. ‘You sing in the shower and you think you sound pretty great! I think we’re all self-deluded sometimes.’

How difficult was it, as an actress renowned for being a perfectionist, to play someone so imperfect?

‘Jenkins read the reviews in a paper and it broke her heart, ’ she said. ‘But if you live in the modern world and make a mistake, and go online, and read about yourself, you’ll hurt your feelings. No one is perfect.’

Except, perhaps, Imelda Staunton. Streep told me that she’d seen Staunton play Gypsy at the Savoy and thought she was faultless.

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