Press Room

NYC Opera presents Rufus Wainwright’s new opera, “Prima Donna”: Feb 19 at BAM

In the second production of its current season, New York City Opera presents the U.S. premiere of Prima Donna, the first opera by Juno Award-winning, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright. Opening on Sunday, February 19 at 1:30 PM, the work will be given three additional evening performances on February 21, 23 and 25, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music‘s Howard Gilman Opera House. A meditation on the fine line between fame and failure, the Dora Award-winning Prima Donna is “a love song to opera, soaked in the perennial operatic themes of loss, betrayal, delusion and nostalgia, and saturated in the musical styles of opera’s golden age,” according to The Times of London. The New York Times declared, “There are inspired touches and disarmingly beautiful passages in this mysterious, stylistically eclectic work.” This production by celebrated director Tim Albery, underwritten by the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, has already thrilled audiences at Sadler’s Wells in London and Toronto’s Luminato Festival. 
Set in Paris in 1970, Prima Donna features a French libretto co-written by Wainwright and Bernadette Colomine. Rising-star soprano Melody Moore sings the tour-de-force role of a once-acclaimed diva haunted by her past success and her present reality as she seeks to return to the spotlight. Prima Donna will be the second of two New York City Opera productions at BAM this season; a new Jonathan Miller production of Verdi’s La traviata opened the company’s new season last Sunday.
Tickets for Prima Donna and other productions in New York City Opera’s season can be purchased by phone at (212) 870-5600 or online at
Previews in the media:
On Saturday, February 18, Rufus Wainwright discusses Prima Donna with David Srebnik on SiriusXM’s Symphony Hall (Channel 76) at 7 pm (EST), and at 8 pm he talks to Julie James “On Broadway” (Channel 72, with repeat broadcasts on Sunday at 12 pm EST and Thursday at 9 pm EST).
Rufus Wainwright discusses Prima Donna, and singers from the opera perform, at WQXR’s Greene Space, hosted by WQXR’s Terrance McKnight:
New York City Opera’s General Manager and Artistic Director, George Steel, discusses Prima Donna and other offerings in the company’s 2012 season with
About Rufus Wainwright
Affectionately referred to by Elton John as “the greatest songwriter on the planet” and praised by the New York Times for his “genuine originality,” Rufus Wainwright has established himself as one of the great male vocalists and songwriters of his generation. The son of folk singers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle and the brother of singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright, Rufus has achieved his success by carving out his own singular sound in the worlds of rock, opera, theater, dance, and film.
Wainwright has received Juno Awards for Best Alternative Album in 1999 and 2002 for Rufus Wainwright and Poses, respectively, and Juno nominations for his albums Want Two (2005) and Release The Stars (2008). He was nominated for Songwriter of the Year in 2008 for Release The Stars, which went Gold in Canada and the UK. He composed the original music for choreographer Stephen Petronio’s work BLOOM, which has toured widely. His concert album, Rufus Does Judy At Carnegie Hall, was nominated for a Grammy Award and released concurrently with a live DVD (Rufus! Rufus! Rufus! Does Judy! Judy! Judy!) that captured his celebrated Judy Garland tribute performance at the London Palladium in 2007. He composed a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s sonnets for director Robert Wilson that premiered with the Berliner Ensemble in April 2009; he was commissioned to orchestrate five numbers from this Shakespearean work for a song cycle premiered by the San Francisco Symphony in 2010.
Wainwright has released eight albums and three DVDs to date, and his songs have appeared on numerous soundtracks and compilations. He has collaborated with such artists as Elton John, David Byrne, Rosanne Cash, Pet Shop Boys, and Keane. Wainwright’s most recent live pop album was a recording from his Release The Stars tour, titled Milwaukee At Last!!! His latest album, All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu, was released in 2010 to critical acclaim, and a career-spanning boxed set, House of Rufus, was released in summer 2011. Wainwright has recorded a studio pop album produced by Mark Ronson, titled Out Of The Game, due for release worldwide in spring 2012.
Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna
Feb 19, 1:30 pm
Feb 21, 7:30 pm
Feb 23, 7:30 pm
Feb 25, 7:30 pm
Howard Gilman Opera House at the Brooklyn Academy of Music
30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
Running Time: 2 hours, 50 minutes. Performed in French with English supertitles.
NYCO subscriptions and tickets
Subscriptions and single tickets for New York City Opera’s season can be purchased by phone at (212) 870-5600 or online at
For further information about Prima Donna and other current New York City Opera productions, contact Glenn Petry, 21C Media Group, [email protected], (212) 625-2038.

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