BINGLEY Little Theatre’s first production of the new year invites us into the world of a would-be opera diva.

Peter Quilter’s comedy Glorious! is based on the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress who longed to be a great opera diva - despite having one of the worst singing voices ever heard.

A socialite in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, Florence was a self-styled amateur soprano who gained renown and a faithful following, and was the unwitting subject of witty sarcasm for her flamboyant costumes and poor singing ability.

Born Narcissa Florence Foster in 1868 - her name perhaps reflecting her later fondness for angel wings, floating gowns and strewn flowers - she was a talented pianist as a child,even performing at the White House on one occasion.

But her early musical talent did not translate to her singing, and while her pianist tried to cover her terrible pitch and rhythm, he was unable cover her substandard diction and intonation.

It is said that Florence may have been in on the joke, or that an early illness had damaged her ears. She certainly thought she was a wonderful soprano, performing at private recitals, for groups of devoted friends, and private clubs, where her enthusiasm and joy almost made up for her imperfect pitch.

Paying little attention to critics, she ended up giving a sell-out concert at Carnegie Hall shortly before her death.

The play opens in 1940s New York, in the apartment at the Seymour Hotel which Florence shares with English actor St Clair. We find her auditioning her pianist Cosme McMoon. Add in a Mexican maid who speaks no English and a ditzy companion, and you have a witty play with music (of sorts).

Bingley’s production is directed by Jan Darnbrough, who says: “This is a very funny and, at times, touching play. It has been a privilege and a joy to work with this talented cast and crew."

Taking on the role of Florence Foster Jenkins is Helen Clarke, with Andy Price as Cosme McMoon, Brian Stoner as St Clair, Gilly Rogers as Dorothy, Gabrielle Cross as Maria and Kay Vann as Mrs Verrinder-Gedge.

* Glorious! runs at Bingley Arts Centre from January 21-26. For tickets call (01274) 567983.