Rufus Wainwright


Rufus Wainwright

Rufus Wainwright is an American-Canadian singer-songwriter and composer. His lush, theatrical pop harks back to the traditions of Tin Pan Alley, cabaret, and even opera.

Life and Music

  • Rufus Wainwright was born in 1973; the son of folk music luminaries Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle.  His parents divorced while he was a child, and he was raised by his mother in Montreal. Beginning his piano studies at age six, by 13 he was touring with his mother, aunt Anna, and his sister Martha in a group billed as the McGarrigle Sisters and Family.
  • Wainwright became interested in opera during his adolescent years, and the genre strongly influences his music. (For instance, his song 'Barcelona' features lyrics from the libretto of Giuseppe Verdi's opera, Macbeth.)
  • Following his 2007–2008 tour, Wainwright began writing his first opera, Prima Donna, about "a day in the life of an opera singer", anxiously preparing for her comeback, who falls in love with a journalist. There are four characters, and the libretto is in French. The opera was originally commissioned by Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb. However, because of a dispute over Wainwright's decision to write the libretto in French and the Met's inability to schedule an opening in the 2009 season, Wainwright and the Met ended their relationship. Instead of a New York opening, Prima Donna was staged during the Manchester International Festival, where the first performance took place at the Palace Theatre on July 10, 2009.
  • Reviews for the performance were mixed, however, Prima Donna went on to win a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Musical/Opera in June 2011.

Did you know?
In 2006 Rufus took to the stage of Carnegie Hall to recreate in full Judy Garland’s fabled concert at the same venue. The result was the CD Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall and it was heaped with critical praise.

Rufus Wainwright - Going to a Town