Rufus Wainwright announced for Auckland Arts Festival 2017

Vocalist, composer and songwriter Rufus Wainwright is a consummate and audacious showman who has wooed thousands across the world. In a night of musical alchemy, the magnificent maestro celebrates his ‘main squeezes’ – opera and orchestra – and his passion for dramatics, divas and show songs.

Prima Donna: A Symphonic Visual Concert, Wainwright’s debut opera, is the concert’s first half. Set against a beautiful film by contemporary Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli and starring Cindy Sherman, three exquisite classical singers, accompanied by the APO, tell the moving story of fictional diva Régine Saint Laurent in 1970s Paris. Once the world’s most revered operatic soprano, Régine is anxiously preparing for her return to the stage after six years of silence. In doing so, she is forced to confront the ghosts of her past.

In the second half, Wainwright and the brilliant 36-piece orchestra take us back to 1961 when show business legend Judy Garland performed a concert at NYC’s Carnegie Hall that reignited her career and solidified her status as an icon for the LGBTI community. He continues Garland's legacy with his signature showmanship, energy and style, delivering a selection of her most beloved hits, including Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Puttin’ on the Ritz and Chicago.

Wainwright has established himself as one of the great male vocalists and songwriters of his generation. The New York-born, Montreal-raised singer-songwriter has released eight studio albums, three DVDs and three live albums, including the Grammy nominated Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall, and the album Release The Stars, which went Gold in Canada and the UK.

Wainwright has received many awards and collaborated with numerous artists, among them Elton John, David Byrne, Boy George, Joni Mitchell, Robbie Williams, Pet Shop Boys and Mark Ronson.

Contemporary artist and film maker Francesco Vezzoli’s work draws on various media formats, such as advertising and film, to explore the power of contemporary popular culture. The Vezzoli film accompaniment in Prima Donna stars American actor, artist, photographer and filmmaker Cindy Sherman in costumes originally worn by legendary soprano Maria Callas.

Sherman’s use of her own body is a signature characteristic of her artistic work, as are her portrayals of female stereotypes found in film, television and advertising. She is well-known for donning elaborate disguises, often in large-scale colour photographs.

Prima Donna brings together three outstanding opera singers - the established New Zealand-born international opera star Madeleine Pierard (Nixon in China) alongside highly talented newcomers Cameron Barclay (Sweeney Todd) and Madison Nonoa (Third place, Lexus Song Quest 2016).

The evening is also a showcase of the vast talent of the APO; from opulent opera to a swinging 36-piece orchestra.

This one-night-only event is Rufus Wainwright as composer, performer, collaborator and host. It’s a fantastic musical journey that takes the audience from the glorious world of opera to the nostalgic comfort of old school show tunes. 

Rufus Wainwright - Prima Donna: A Symphonic Visual Concert

Wednesday March 22nd: Aotea Centre, Auckland

Tickets via Ticketmaster