Rufus Wainwright Raising Funds to Record Opera Prima Donna

By Michael Gioia
12 Mar 2014

Singer, songwriter and composer Rufus Wainwright is raising funds via PledgeMusic to record his Bastille Day-set opera Prima Donna, with hopes of a touring concert version to follow.



Wainwright would release the opera on a double CD featuring an orchestra. Visit his PledgeMusic page here.

He described the opera as "a two act affair set on the day in the life of a great diva who is deciding whether or not to continue her career. With Paris as a backdrop, the opera both borrows from operatic myth and legend as well as my own very contemporary personal experiences as a singer. The themes of loss, fear, hope and ultimately acceptance are deeply explored in this work by both the soloists and the orchestra, and I’m very proud that for a first venture into the operatic world I love so much, though not a masterpiece perhaps (that will come much later in my life), Prima Donna is a solid and viable offering that both people love performing in and audiences enjoy watching and listening to. It's vitally important we get a quality recording for generations to come."

A portion of the pledge will also go to the Kate McGarrigle Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Wainwright and his sister to raise money to fight sarcoma, the rare and underfunded cancer that took his mother's life in 2010. 

The work was first announced as a co-commission by the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theater. The Manchester International Festival later picked up the commission of the French-language opera, and its U.S. premiere was presented by New York City Opera at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in February 2012.

Wainwright, an accomplished musician in his own right, is the son of folk musicians Loudon Wainwright III and the late Kate McGarrigle. He also performed Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall at the famed New York venue in 2006. A Grammy-nominated album captures the concerts, which were also performed at London's Palladium, Paris' L'Olympia and Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl. He also composed an adaptation of Shakespeare Sonnets with director Robert Wilson.