Monday, July 13, 2009

Wainwright's new opera: and the reviews come pouring in.

Rufus Wainwright's new opera "Prima Donna" premiered this weekend and the Monday morning reviews are mixed, at best. The Globe and Mail is calling it "entertaining if slightly barmy," while the New York Times has it as "muddled" but with "inspired touches," and The Independent marks it a "flimsy plot is spun out into a cheesy piece of full-length music theatre." All told, it seems that the prevailing attitude is that the score is ambitious, very (capital "R") Romantic, but too melodramatic and lacking in subtlety, preferring to hit the audience over the head with spelled out emotions instead of letting the music take the cue. Interestingly, the NY Times critic was left longing for more "Wainwright," commenting that his best in the piece was when he wasn't trying to be anything more than himself.

Toronto audiences get a look at next year's Luminato Festival. I, for one, am really looking forward to it. I love new opera. It allows opera to continue as a living art form. Let's not forget some of the most spectacular operatic "failures": Manon Lescault, Mozart, who had incredible trouble with most of his operas in Vienna, and, most impressivley, "The Barber of Seville, which couldn't even get through Act 2 in it's premiere. Time will tell.

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