Rufus Wainwright set to bring his opera-in-progress here

Pop singer/songwriter will workshop 'Hadrian' as part of the Opera Fusion: New Works program.

UPDATE: On Aug. 22, it was announced that this event has been postponed. Check citybeat.com for updates. 

Rufus Wainwright, the Pop singer/songwriter who has been expanding his interests into Classical music, is set to be workshopping his new opera here in late fall. It is called Hadrian and, besides Wainwright’s music, has a libretto by Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor.

Commissioned by Toronto’s Canadian Opera Company, it is scheduled to have its premiere there in 2018 with MacIvor as its director.

click to enlarge Rufus Wainwright - Photo: Matthew Welch
Photo: Matthew Welch
Rufus Wainwright

Wainwright and MacIvor have been selected to be here in 2017 as part of the Opera Fusion: New Works program, a collaboration between the Cincinnati Opera and University of Cincinnati — College Conservatory of Music’s Opera Department. Dates have not yet been set and could change, but an Opera spokesperson said it is looking at December. Both Cincinnati Opera’s Marcus Küchle and CCM’s Robin Guarino confirmed the general details.

The workshop sessions are private, but there are plans for a public presentation of selections, with Wainwright and MacIvor present for discussion. CCM’s Robin Guarino will be directing the workshop presentations.

The opera, which the Canadian company commissioned in 2013, tells the story of the Roman emperor Hadrian and his profound grief following the death of his lover, Antinous, a young man in his entourage. According to an interview with Wainwright on the Canadian Opera’s website, he envisions this being produced on a grand scale. Wainwright’s previous opera, Prima Donna, debuted in 2009.

Since 2011, Opera Fusion has racked up an impressive record for workshopping operas that go on to fully staged performances, including Cincinnati Opera’s Fellow Travelers and Morning Star and Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ Champion. Last year, Opera Fusion brought Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage and composer Ricky Ian Gordon here to workshop an operatic adaptation of her play Intimate Apparel that had been commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera.


More information about upcoming Classical music events will be in CityBeat’s Aug. 23 Fall Arts Preview issue.

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