Grammy nominated singer and songwriter Rufus Wainwright is premiering Prima Donna: A Symphonic Visual Concert at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus at the Athens Festival in Greece on September 15, 2015.
The initial success of Wainwright’s opera, Prima Donna, which premiered in 2009 at the Manchester International Festival, led him to create a visual concert adaptation to share with the rest of the world.
The opera’s central character, a retired Diva struggling to make her return to the stage and regain her former years of greatness, was inspired by the BBC Lord Harewood interviews with Maria Callas in her later years.
For the concert adaptation, Wainwright reconfigured the music he composed for the Opera, and scheduled the tour to coincide with the release of the studio recording of the complete opera with Deutsche Grammophon. Wainwright conceived of a film to accompany the live music and invited two legendary artists to collaborate with him on it.
Celebrated artist Cindy Sherman, renowned for changing appearances in her work, appears in the film as an aging character inspired by Maria Callas, wearing Callas’ actual costumes borrowed from Tirelli Costumi and Costumi d’Arte in Rome. The film is directed by Francesco Vezzoli, Italian video artist and filmmaker, whose work has taken celebrity and glamour to new heights. Vezzoli’s dramatic sensibilities and visual taste and Sherman’s enthralling portrayal of an abundance of characters aligned with Wainwright’s vision.
The first half of the performance is comprised of a 60-minute concert version of Prima Donna, coinciding with a showing of the film. The second half of the performance features Wainwright singing highlights from his acclaimed oeuvre as a songwriter with full orchestra accompaniment. Opera singers will also make an appearance for a couple of songs.
Wainwright will also perform Prima Donna: A Symphonic Visual Concert at the Gulbenkian in Lisbon, Portugal on November 27, 2015 and the Hong Kong Arts Festival on March 1, 2016. In addition, the Prima Donna album will also be released on Deutsche Grammophon internationally on September 11, 2015, and on October 2, 2015 in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
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