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Photo & Video: Meryl Streep Talks FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS & More in 'TimesTalks'

Photo & Video: Meryl Streep Talks FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS & More in 'TimesTalks'New York--Moderated by the New York Times' (NYT) chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini, three-time Academy Award winner Meryl Streep, who plays the titular role of the tone-deaf operatic soprano Florence Foster Jenkins in the movie of the same name, recently talked about the connection between acting and music; her desire to work on an original theater piece on the Broadway stage, among other things, in "TimesTalks."

"TimesTalks" are intimate conversations with NYT journalists and today's top talent and thought leaders from diverse fields of expertise.

"I'm definitely an actress first. I don't know if I could ever do what real singers do who can come up here and sing. I really enjoy singing through the persona of a person. That's how I've always approached it," said Streep, whose previous movie musical credits include Donna in "Mamma Mia!" (2008) and the Witch in "Into The Woods" (2014).

Broadway Legend Stephen Sondheim's music and lyrics in "Stay with Me," the Witch's solo in "Into the Woods," for Streep, is the "most beautiful marriage of a lyric to a melody. You can walk into his songs almost without knowing what you're doing if you just sing what he's saying."

"That's great singing because of such great acting. It's because of the reflection on the words as Steve [Sondheim] said," Tommasini remarked.

On the transition from great singing to the lack thereof in Streep's latest film about the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins, she fondly shared: "It was surprisingly easy to sing [out of tune]," she chuckled softly. "But it was hard to learn the aria for real. I learned the full aria and learned how to sing it well as I possibly could, then I screwed it up!"

Streep previously appeared on Broadway in Kurt Weill's "Happy End" (1977), Anton Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" (1977)," William Gillette's "Secret Service" (1976), and Arthur Miller's "A Memory of Two Mondays" (1976).

Fortunately, for theater fans, Streep is really looking forward to making her way back to the Great White Way via an original theater piece. "I'd love to do another play. I don't want to do another revival. I've done some things that other people have done--great old chestnuts," she said.

Directed by Stephen Frears and written by Nicolas Martin, "Florence Foster Jenkins" (Meryl Streep) tells the story about a wealthy heiress: an aspiring opera singer who often sings out of tune in front of her friends in small salons and recital halls. But when Florence decided to give a public performance at Carnegie Hall, her partner and manager, St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), knows instantly that he's about to face his biggest challenge.

Besides Streep and Grant, the film also stars Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson, and Nina Arianda.

"Florence Foster Jenkins" is in theaters now.

Photos: Mike Cohen for the New York Times

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