Rufus Wainwright Writing Opera About “The Construct Of A Diva”

Apr 28th, 2008 // 5 Comments

AP060207039409.jpg Hey did you know that Rufus Wainwright likes opera? That he has a thing for divas? Word is, the dude is gay. If your response is “no…really?…him?” then you may not have heard that the mush-mouthed songbird has been commissioned to write songs and a libretto for an upcoming production with the Metropolitan Opera named Prima Donna. And it won’t be in English, philistine. Or did you not know that Wainwright’s from Canada too?

After spending a year thoroughly digesting the Judy Garland songbook for his re-creation of Garland’s celebrated 1961 concert (captured on live record “Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall”), as well as touring in support of his last album of original material, “Release the Stars” (which picked up GLAAD’s music award at the New York ceremony in March), Wainwright will soon be busy on an entirely new venture — an opera.

He functions as both composer and librettist (in French) for “Prima Donna,” commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, which he says focuses on “a day in the life of an opera singer.”

“I’ve wanted to write an opera since I was about 14 years old,” Wainwright relates, “but I couldn’t find a story that I could wrap my head around.” Inspiration came from his fascination with “the construct of the diva, from Maria Callas to Norma Desmond and the (Jean-Jacques Beineix) movie “Diva” from the ’80s. And God darn it, there’s a bit of me in that too.”

Rufus’ 1998 video, “April Fools,” revels in this obsession, and I have no doubt he could create an entertaining piece. What I don’t get is how someone who loves theater this much can have such a hard time enunciating.

Wainwright takes on opera divas [Variety]


  1. Ned Raggett

    The first thing I thought of when I read the title was the song from The Phantom of the Opera by that name. Which is not perhaps the desired reaction.

  2. NickEddy

    It should be a tale of redemption about Donna Matthews from Elastica.

  3. Halfwit

    He actually already explored this territory as a guest on David Byrne’s last album. I believe he contributed to two actual opera pieces (“covers,” I guess). Both tracks were found… wanting.

  4. bcapirigi

    @NickEddy: Oh my God somebody needs to do that IMMEDIATELY.

  5. Dick Laurent is dead.

    @NickEddy: Sounds like the kind of thing I’d “Line Up” for.

    Sorry, really.

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