RUFUS WAINWRIGHT'S OPERA PRIMA DONNA RELEASED FOR THE FIRST TIME ON OCTOBER 2
AVAILABLE NOW ON DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON/UNIVERSAL MUSIC CLASSICS
Orchestra: BBC Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Jayce Ogren
Singers: Janis Kelly, Kathryn Guthrie, Antonio Figueroa, Richard Morrison
Painting by Delia Brown; Cindy as Reigne, 2015
Photo by Joshua White/JWPictures.com
Photo Courtesy of Prima Donna LLC
"A love song to opera … saturated in the musical styles of opera's golden age" – The Times "Disarmingly beautiful" – New York Times "Thrilling" – Manchester Evening News "Much of the music is simply beautiful… It is a true opera." – Philadelphia Inquirer
Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright releases his debut opera, Prima Donna, for the first time on audio since its 2009 premiere at the Manchester International Festival. The recording, just released on October 2 on Deutsche Grammophon/UMC follows the live event, Prima Donna: A Symphonic Visual Concert held at the Athens Festival in Greece in September.
Prima Donna's central character, a retired Diva struggling to make her return to the stage and regain her former years of greatness, was inspired by the BBC Lord Harewood interviews with Maria Callas in her later years.
In addition to its Manchester premiere and most recently the Athens visual concert, Prima Donna also had a run at Sadler's Wells in London, Luminato: Toronto Festival of Arts and Creativity in Toronto and its American premiere in New York City Opera in February 2012 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
For the Athens concert adaptation, Wainwright reconfigured the music he composed for the Opera, and scheduled the tour to coincide with the release of the studio recording of the complete opera with Deutsche Grammophon. Wainwright conceived of a film to accompany the live music and invited two legendary artists to collaborate with him on it.
Celebrated artist Cindy Sherman, renowned for changing appearances in her work, appears in the film as an aging character inspired by Maria Callas, wearing Callas' actual costumes borrowed from Tirelli Costumi and Costumi d'Arte in Rome. The film is directed by Francesco Vezzoli, Italian video artist and filmmaker, whose work has taken celebrity and glamour to new heights.Vezzoli's dramatic sensibilities and visual taste and Sherman's enthralling portrayal of an abundance of characters aligned with Wainwright's vision.
Wainwright will also perform Prima Donna: A Symphonic Visual Concert at the Gulbenkian in Lisbon, Portugal on November 27, 2015 and the Hong Kong Arts Festival on March 1, 2016.
Rufus Wainwright has established himself as one of his generation's great male vocalists and songwriters. The New York-born, Montreal-bred singer/songwriter has released seven acclaimed studio albums and two live albums.
Wainwright has also collaborated with many artists, including, most recently, Robbie Williams, co-writing and performing a duet on the title track of his Swing Both Ways album. He has also worked with the Pet Shop Boys, Shirley Bassey, Elton John, Antony, David Byrne, Joni Mitchell, Robert Wilson, Lou Reed, Boy George, and Mark Ronson.
Wainwright has just been commissioned by the Canadian Opera Company to write his second opera, based on the story of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and Antinoos. The new opera will premiere in Toronto in October 2018.
Quite the showman, Wainwright's acclaimed tours have taken him from Glastonbury to the Royal Opera House to Radio City Music Hall, Carnegie Hall, and the Hollywood Bowl, to name a few. He has also performed many notable shows with some of the world's best orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, playing a selection of his own songs and his Shakespearean Sonnets.