Rufus Wainwright is currently putting the final touches on Prima Donna, a French opera the pop star wrote himself. Wainwright’s opus will premiere globally at the Manchester International Festival in July, and in North America at Toronto’s Luminato Festival of the Arts and Creativity in 2010.
“One of my favorite things that I like to say now is that I relate a lot to Mozart,” Wainwright joked at a press conference in New York. “Not so much in terms of the genius factor, more in terms of the dead factor. It’s so, so laborious and time-consuming and emotionally draining. You can’t skimp on the work, whether it’s the first violin part or the heartstrings.”
The opera, whose plot involves a distressed soprano in Paris during the 1970s, took Rufus three years to write. Initially the pop star set out to write the piece in English, but as the story developed, French became a better fit. And don’t get your hopes up if you are a Rufus fan—the singer/songwriter will not be performing any of the songs he has written. “This one is for opera singers. They’ve got to be able to sing over the 70-piece orchestra, so I can’t do that,” Wainwright told the press. “But I’ll always want to sing. And now, after writing an opera, I’m much more interested in writing a musical. It’s far more lucrative!”
Speaking of which, Wainwright is also beginning a project with theater legend Robert Wilson that will present a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s sonnets. The project will premiere in Berlin during the Easter holidays.