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Rufus Wainwright Q&A's with WFMT: Chicago

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Opera has always been important to composer Rufus Wainwright, though many know him as the man behind the piano crooning confessional songs. If you listen closely, you can hear hints of French mélodie and even references to Verdi in his chart-topping hits.

Wainwright began composing his first opera, Prima Donna, because the Metropolitan Opera was interested in commissioning the work from him. He began composing in 2008, but severed ties with the company after disputes arose over the language for the libretto. Wainwright insisted the opera be written in French, while the Metropolitan Opera demanded that the opera be in English. In addition, Wainwright hoped the opera would premiere in 2009, though the Met could not schedule the premiere until 2014, according to a report in New York Times.

Prima Donna had its world premiere in 2009 at the Palace Theatre as part of the Manchester International Festival, and was recently recorded. I spoke with Wainwright about his first opera and operas that influenced him.

WFMT: Chicago - Stephen Raskauskas interviewed Wainwright for this Q&A