The Arts

Luminato Festival – Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna

Luminato Festival – Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna featured image

Reviewed by Paula Citron

Pop star Rufus Wainwright’s opera Prima Donna is an impressive first effort. The first act is strong, and while the second act finale goes on far too long, there is real promise.

The story is set on Bastille Day, 1970, in Paris. We see one day in the life of the great soprano Régine Saint Laurent who lost her voice six years ago but is planning a comeback.

Wainwright shows he is a part of all that he has met. The opening prelude sounds like Puccini, and as the opera progresses, all the French composers make an appearance. The dramatic moments are highlighted by obvious orchestral colour. Nonetheless, British conductor Robert Houssart is masterful in pulling out the soul of the music which is quite beautiful and delicate.

Scottish soprano Janis Kelly is superb as Régine, and is supported by a strong cast, ably directed by Tim Albery.

Derivative, definitely. Enjoyable, absolutely.

Prima Donna continues at the Elgin Theatre until Jun. 19.

Prima Donna
Luminato Festival
Composed by Rufus Wainwright
Libretto (in French) by Wainwright and Bernadette Colomine
Conducted by Robert Houssart
Directed by Tim Albery
Starring Janis Kelly, Charlotte Ellett, Colin Ainsworth and Gregory Dahl with Joe Bucci and Miranda Calderon
ElginTheatre, Jun. 14 to 19, 2010

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