Celebrity

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT'S PRIMA DONNA

When a big dream gets realized, you can’t help but applaud. After seeing Rufus Wainwright’s first opera—Prima Donna—at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre during the city’s Luminato Festival of the Arts, this thought kept crossing my mind. Wainwright, now 36, has been talking about the making of this production ever since he turned 24 (that would be 12 years ago, when he released his debut disc). Surrounded by a sparse set of candelabras, old photos and rose-filled vases, Wainwright’s Prima Donna heroine is a Maria Callas-like diva facing a career comeback and some deep-dish aging issues. Although the opera’s actual plot wasn’t half as propelling as the performances (Janis Kelly as lead is hypnotic) or the nuanced music—this production should be regarded as a remarkable step in Wainwright’s career. Of course naysayers have been slinging words like “cliché” and “stereotype” at the work ever since it first premiered in Manchester but yesterday night’s crowd was having none of it. In fact, they were so taken by Wainwright’s ambitions, he received a standing ovation.