Title - 'Prima Donna'
Artist - Rufas Wainwright
Rufus Wainwright is an American-Canadian singer-songwriter and composer who has, to date, recorded seven albums of original music and supplied numerous tracks on compilations and film soundtracks. He has also written a classical opera ('Prima Donna') and set Shakespeare sonnets to music for a theater piece by Robert Wilson.
Following his 2007–2008 tour, Wainwright began writing his first opera, 'Prima Donna,' about "a day in the life of an opera singer", anxiously preparing for her comeback, who falls in love with a journalist. There are four characters, and the libretto is in French.
The opera was originally commissioned by Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb. However, because of a dispute over Wainwright's decision to write the libretto in French and the Met's inability to schedule an opening in the 2009 season, Wainwright and the Met ended their relationship.
So, instead of a New York opening, 'Prima Donna' was staged during the Manchester International Festival, where the first performance took place at the Palace Theatre on July 10th, 2009. 'Prima Donna' won a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Musical/Opera in June 2011 - and rightfully so.
Rufus has always had a deep-rooted passion for opera and now, for the first time, it has been actually recorded on disc via Deutsche Grammophon! Released this past September 11th, tying in with concert performances of the opera in Europe and Asia, Prima Donna is an admirably melodic, lushly orchestrated work of musical composition from the singer/songwriter.
That a first-time opera composer would let his influences show shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Nor should it be considered absolutely damning that a maiden attempt at a genre so notoriously difficult is not a thoroughgoing success.
After all, how many goes did Wagner have to give it - Die Feen, Das Liebesverbot, Rienzi, just to name a few - before he got even to The Flying Dutchman, let alone his later masterpieces? Much the same thing can be said of many of the other composers whose works are now staples of the opera house.
The second album in this 2CD set is a collection of songs based on Shakespeare sonnets, sung by Anna Prohaska, Rufus himself, and a surprise female guest star! I won't give it away here today, so I'll just let you be surprises once you buy the CD and sit back to enjoy it for yourself.