Prima Donna, the Bastille Day-set opera by Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, will make its Gotham debut in spring 2012 at the New York City Opera instead of the Metropolitan Opera, for which it was originally conceived. NYCO said on Monday that the company would produce it sometime next season. The Met and Lincoln Center Theater originally commissioned the work, “Prima Donna.” But the Met declined to present it because Mr. Wainwright insisted on keeping the libretto in French.
Scottish soprano Janis Kelly, who originated the role of aging soprano Régine Saint-Laurent in the world premiere of Prima Donna, will repeat her work in the New York debut. NYCO general manager and artistic director George Steel announced the production as part of the 2011-2012 season.
Bernadette Colomine authored the French-language libretto for the opera, which had its premiere at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, England on July 10, 2009. Tim Albery, who staged the North American premiere of the opera, will repeat his duties for the NYCO production.
“For me, many an incredible evening of great theatre and wonderful music have occurred after that brief walk past the famous circular fountain, situated smack in the middle of Lincoln Center,” Wainwright said in a statement. “Now, on the opening night of Prima Donna, I will take that same walk not only as spectator but also as composer: What a thrill, and Thank you New York City Opera! Oh yes, and by the way, I must admit, I once had a strange premonition that something like this would happen. STRIDE LA VAMPA!”
It is fitting that Prima Donna should finally make its New York City debut at the Koch Theater within the Lincoln Center complex. The work was first announced as a co-commission by the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theater. The Manchester International Festival later picked up the commission of the French-language opera.
According to NYCO, “Prima Donna tells the story of Régine Saint Laurent, an aging opera singer attempting to confront her past to again regain her triumphant status as one of the world’s greatest sopranos.”
Photo credit: Clive Barda