Rufus Wainwright's opera opens to mixed reviews -

Rufus Wainwright’s opera opens to mixed reviews

One critic compares the dramatic work to a “Loblaws grocery bag”


Rufus Wainwright’s first opera, Prima Donna, made its North American debut at Luminato last night. And as the reviews tumbled in, they were as mixed as last year’s reaction to the opera’s European debut at the Manchester International Festival. A Toronto Star critic called the staging a “dramatic wreck,” adding that “you can’t get a Louis Vuitton clutch from a Loblaws grocery bag.” The Baltimore Sun’s critic wrote “it’s a valiant effort, to be sure, and Wainwright should try another.” The Globe, meanwhile, asserted that while the director and cast soar, the orchestra falls short. Still, it concedes “Wainwright has deftly made a virtue of his outsider status in the world of contemporary opera.”

The Toronto Star

The Baltimore Sun

The Globe and Mail

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Rufus Wainwright’s opera opens to mixed reviews

  1. I was really looking forward to Prima Donna. It was a complete disappointment. The first act plodded along terribly and the orchestra drowned out the singers, particularly in their lower registers. I was on the floor, friends were in the balcony. In both areas of the theater, we could not hear the singers. The second act offered more promise. But by that time I was bored. Their was just no chemistry, no plot, no sparkle, nothing. The tacky wires that held up the full moon prop was enough to make me wonder why I had paid $150.00 dollars to see this really poorly produced show. And then I just worried that the diva's dress would catch on fire if she accidentally got too close to all the flaming candles. The whole thing got me stressed. I don't know why there was a standing ovation. Perhaps, we are just starved for celebrities in Toronto. To my mind the problem was the libretto: I would have had the butler and maid having an affair. The maid then becomes close friends with the diva – dividing her loyalties- the diva initially promises her love to the butler (he is using her) but then the diva falls in love with the journalist – but she has already made a commitment to butler – again her loyalty is divided – in the end – the diva discovers that the butler and maid and journalist have all betrayed her love/friendship – then she rebukes them all by singing La Marseillaise while the fireworks flash. Now that would have been an opera!

  2. I saw Rufus' concert and while his brillance shone through, it is clear he is deeply grieving and it is obvious in his wor. k He is a great talent of our times and we should indulge him this time and not judge him. he is a mega talent, and when the time is right his upbeat, entertaining side will reemerge.