I don't suggest going out of your way to track it down, but if you happen upon an opportunity to see a film called Hitting A New High, I suggest you take it. Released by RKO in 1937, it stars the irresistible Lily Pons as Suzette, a cabaret singer who longs to sing serious opera. Her bandleader/boyfriend won't let her sing Titania at the club. But she meets an impresario who organises for her to be discovered — in Africa, as "Oogahunga the Bird-Girl". So Suzette dutifully treks to Africa, where she's "discovered" in the jungle, chirping her way through Saint-Saens' "Le rossignol". She won't speak English — only bird. But once she's back in the States and becoming famous, it's only a matter of time before her two worlds collide. Mild hilarity ensues. The best thing about it, obviously, is the singing. Her "Le rossignol" is oddly authentic — by which I mean, Saint-Saens' musical approximation of birdsong is interspersed with actual bird noises. She rips through "Je suis Titania" at top speed, which is fantastic — although it is sung a little à la Kathryn Grayson, that Hollywood soprano sound which is a little smaller, sweeter and chirpier than Real Soprano. Best of all is Lucia's mad scene, sung completely out of character. She begins it offstage, mouthing the words while fighting off her warring agents. Then she emerges, in tiara and ballgown, and sings the whole scene beautifully. I mean, you'd be hard pressed to figure out what the aria is about, but that's not what's intended. Of course the real highlights are the opening and closing numbers, where Lily Pons, in impeccable French coloratura style, sings nightclub songs with band. Especially the title song, which involves Lily in top hat and tails and the obligatory male back up dancers. Lily was not, I think, a dancer. But she is an actress. This film was a failure, which is why she never made any more, but she's thoroughly adorable here and pretty damn funny to boot. So you see, there's room on this blog for more than one hilarious French soprano.