THE EM­PEROR’S NEW OPERA

ZOOMER Magazine - - ZOOM IN ETC -

ROME WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY and, as it turns out, writ­ing an opera about a Ro­man em­peror takes a bit longer as well. Can-Amer­i­can singer-song­writer Ru­fus Wain­wright, 45, orig­i­nally con­ceived of an opera that de­picts the grief-stricken Em­peror Hadrian fol­low­ing the death of his adored lover, Anti­nous, years ago, but as he told the U.K.’s Guardian, “I wasn’t con­fi­dent enough then in my abil­i­ties to nav­i­gate all the emo­tional pos­si­bil­i­ties the opera de­mands.” And so he wrote a dif­fer­ent opera, Prima Donna, and con­tin­ued on with his ca­reer as one of Canada’s most eclec­tic and mul­ti­faceted mu­si­cal tal­ents, whose oeu­vre ranges from orig­i­nal tunes to a Judy Gar­land trib­ute to set­ting Shake­spearean son­nets to mu­sic. His tal­ents, of course, be­fit his mu­si­cal pedi­gree as the son of famed Amer­i­can singer-song­writer Loudon Wain­wright III and late Cana­dian folk le­gend Kate McGar­rigle, so it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore Wain­wright got his arias in a row and teamed with a li­bret­tist – Canuck play­wright Daniel MacIvor – to pro­duce Hadrian, which makes its world pre­miere with the Cana­dian Opera Com­pany in Oc­to­ber. —Mike Criso­lago Hadrian runs through Oct. 27. coc.ca

Karita Mat­tila (who plays Plotina, a for­mer Ro­man em­press and ma­ter­nal fig­ure of sorts to Em­peror Hadrian) and Ru­fus Wain­wright chat dur­ing re­hearsal

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