Rufus McGarrigle Wainwright’s career path to opera composer is hardly conventional. Pop star, songwriter, crystal meth addict, party partner (2 days on the lam!) of Barbara Bush, George W.’s famously lefty daughter – and father of Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen (9) whose parents are Lorca Cohen (Leonard’s daughter), Rufus, and “deputy Dad”, Jörn Weisbrodt, Rufus’ husband.
You get the picture. It’s complicated. Rufus Wainwright is a graduate cum laude of the Juilliard School of Mayhem.
His debut opera Prima Donna, written in 2009 but revived by Royal Swedish Opera, is currently available on Operavision, the EU backed opera channel.
On screen, this master of chaotic life choices seemed surprised to discover he had written an opera at all. In an interview during the interval of Prima Donna he was made the point that few singers write opera. He also posited the corollary, that few opera composers sing. No self-congratulation here, though. Merely a quizzical observation, followed by the startling revelation that the singer with an avant-garde cult following and nine successful pop albums on the discography, credits his first musical inspiration to Giuseppe Verdi.