Entertainment

Toronto scores North American debut of Wainwright opera

Rather than New York, it will be Toronto that hosts the North American premiere of Rufus Wainwright's opera debut, Prima Donna.

Rather than New York, it will be Toronto that hosts the North American premiere of Rufus Wainwright's opera debut.

Multidisciplinary arts and culture festival Luminato announced Monday evening that the Canadian singer-songwriter's French-language opera Prima Donna will be staged in Toronto as part of its 2010 edition.

"The further I venture through the world of opera, the more I realize how daring and risky one has to be in order to succeed in this fickle medium. From the composer to the producer and the hundreds of glorious people in between, there must be a steel rod of dedication linking all the elements," Wainwright said in a statement.

"Thank you Toronto for having the guts to make it happen."

The opera, which is set in 1970s-era Paris and follows a fading soprano trying to return to former glory, was initially part of a Metropolitan Opera initiative that commissioned new opera works from pop music and theatre composers.

However, in August 2008, the company and Wainwright announced they had parted ways over the production.

Montreal-raised Wainwright had initially been open to writing his libretto in English and French, but as he progressed, French emerged as a more natural fit with the story and the score, which he also composed.

The two sides also could not agree on an opening date: while Wainwright wanted to see his work performed as soon as possible, New York's Met said it could not fit Prima Donna into its lineup until 2014 at the earliest.

The Manchester International Festival and the Melbourne International Arts Festival also co-commissioned the two-act, two-hour opera.

Prima Donna will have its world premiere as part of the Manchester festival in July.

In the meantime, Wainwright is also working on a musical adaptation of William Shakespeare's sonnets that will premiere in Berlin in April.

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