- Prima Donna, opera
Rufus Wainwright's first opera, "Prima Donna," was premiered at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, England in 2009, and it was performed between 2010 and 2012 in London, Toronto, and New York. This 2015 Deutsche Grammophon release was recorded in London with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jayce Ogren, and featured Janis Kelly as the diva, Régine Saint Laurent, Kathryn Guthrie as her maid, Marie, Antonio Figueroa as the journalist, André Letourneur, and Richard Morrison as the butler, Philippe. In his lyricism and sense of orchestral color, Wainwright clearly derives inspiration from the operas of Giacomo Puccini, though the influence of Stephen Sondheim is apparent in his dramatic writing. Wainwright's choice of French for his libretto seems to be a distancing device rather than a necessity for a story about a fading opera singer, but even though it may be an affectation, it presents little difficulty for following the opera. However, Wainwright's over-reliance on recitative to carry scenes tends to dull the musical interest, and fills a lot of space between arias, which are the main reason to hear this work. The sound of the recording is generally clear and focused in the foreground, so the vocals come across quite clearly, though the orchestra is somewhat recessed and not all details are fully audible.