The opera, which runs from 12 to 17 April 2010 as part of an international tour, is, according to press material, “inspired by perhaps the best known figure of the art form; the diva”. A portrait of a fading opera singer, Régine Saint Laurent, the action is set on Bastille Day in 1970s Paris. Once the world’s most revered operatic soprano, Saint Laurent is preparing for her return to the stage after six years of silence. But in doing so, she is forced to confront the ghosts of her past.
Composer Rufus Wainwright rose to fame carving out his own singular sound in the worlds of rock, pop, theatre, dance and film. A Grammy nominee, he has released a series of acclaimed albums including Poses and Release the Stars. He's the son of folk singers Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III and the brother of fellow singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright.
Announcing Prima Donna, Sadler’s Wells artistic director, Alistair Spalding said: “Sadler’s Wells has a long history of presenting and producing new opera, and I’m delighted to have this opportunity to present Rufus Wainwright’s debut work. He has a deep love of opera, but is also new to writing for the form, which is an exciting combination. While Sadler’s Wells is best known as the UK’s dance house, if it is going to present opera within its programme, this is exactly the kind of work I would want to support.”
The new production is directed by Tim Albery, whose most recent credits include The Flying Dutchman at the Royal Opera House, and Boris Godunov for ENO. Based in Toronto, Albery has collaborated on a number of productions with British designer Antony McDonald, who returns for the tour. Sung in French with surtitles, the libretto is co-written by Wainwright and Bernadette Colomine.
Scottish soprano Janis Kelly will reprise the role of Régine Saint Laurent for the performances in London and the production's subsequent transfer to the Luminato - Toronto Festival of Arts and Creativity.
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