Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rufus Wainwright - Prima Donna

Firstly, I feel it extremely important to bring to everyone's attention that the New York City Opera, as of now, is planning on leaving the David H. Koch Theatre in Lincoln Center (which also houses the New York City Ballet) because of financial reasons.  Clearly this would be a huge loss, not just for Lincoln Center, but for the entire New York music world.  There is a petition which calls to allow the Opera to stay where it is, which I encourage everyone to sign.  The petition can be found on the website:  I just signed the petition moments ago, and it doesn't cost any money so there's nothing to lose.  On the petition you can post a comment for added effect, which is probably most effective if short but meaningful.  I thought I might share with you my comment:
To me, Lincoln Center represents the heart of music.  I have been coming to Lincoln Center ever since I was a little kid, and I will never forget my first concert there.  The NYC Opera is an integral and intrinsic part of the Center and I think it would be a real loss for the entire music world, and especially for New York.  I think that it would be an extremely worthy cause to make sure that the Opera does not leave its heart.  
You can read more about the decision on this article by the NY Times.  

Speaking of the New York City Opera, just two nights ago, Tuesday night, the Opera put on a free concert at the Winter Garden of the 
World Financial Center, starring Rufus Wainwright who is most well-known for his opera "Prima Donna" which the NYC Opera is planning on presenting next spring.  The opera premiered in 2oo9 in Manchester, but has yet to see the face of New York.  At the concert the other night, Wainwright played two arias from the opera (which is in French), "Dans mon pays de Picardie" and the more famous one "Les feux d’artifice".  There is no question Wainwright is extremely talented and writes nice music, but his composition skills are not as up to par as many would expect a professional composer's to be.  In terms of his "pop" music which includes repertoire such as his "Hallelujah" and "Across the Universe" I happen to be a big fan and I think he is a really talented composer (and musician).  You definitely hear a lot of Bob Dylan in his music, and there is definitely a lot of heart and soul which makes it so attractive.  The simplicity of his music with the heart definitely puts him in the same ballpark as Chapin, Dylan, and Judy Gardland, and for that he gets two thumbs up.  Although I've never heard his opera, Prima Donna (no, I never went to England to see it), I have heard mixed things about it.  While people say that it is a creative opera, it apparently has plenty of faults.  Just the language, French, for instance, seems to be a rather ironic choice for an opera who's themes (both content and music) are overtly more modern than 19th century Bizet, and for whom English would seem to be much more appropriate a choice.  In fact, the Met is not performing the opera at all (even though it helped commission it along with the NYC Opera) because they wanted it to be in English.  Besides the language though, many of the musical passage's transitions have been allegedly rigid or not smooth, and the entire tone of the piece is apparently unclear and ambiguous.  Even so, I do hope to see the opera when it comes to New York (hopefully at Lincoln Center), and I am very much anticipating the event.  

In terms of the rest of the concert on Tuesday, Wainwright performed a few of his pops songs, and there was a performance of a few other opera arias, including Bizet's "Habanera" from Carmen and the quartet from the third act of "Rigoletto" by Verdi.  You can read more about the concert on this article by the Times, as well as an article (also by the Times) written in 2009 about Prima Donna after its premier in Manchester.  I do not think I could close this post without posting a video of the quartet in Rigoletto, now that I mentioned it, as it happens to be my favorite aria in opera. 

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