DVD. PRIMA DONNA. Rufus Wainwright

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DVD. Rufus Wainwright  PRIMA DONNA. The story of an opera

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DVD. Zona 0 ( región libre). 84 minutos (documental) + 44 minutos (bonus)

Menú: Inglés.  Subtítulos: Inglés, Francés, Alemán y Español

PRIMA DONNA - THE STORY OF AN OPERA

Why did Rufus Wainwright write an opera? This and many other questions that might arise in connection with Prima Donna, the Canadian-American singer-songwriter-star's widely celebrated opera-debut, are answered by this ninety-minute documentary, originally produced for the BBC. Moreover, the film creates a fascinating portrait of Rufus Wainwright through comprehensive and honest interviews, an impressive overview of his musical history, and a host of insights into his youth and career. All of which rather begs the question, why he didn't start writing operas long ago. It is always fascinating to observe this extravagant and melody-loving character, whether he's acting the part of Baron Scarpia as a young boy on an old home-video, or involving himself in the rehearsals of Prima Donna. It is extremely funny to listen to him tell the story of a vacation on Martha's Vineyard, when he was still in his teens, where he tried to make Jackie Onassis feel guilty by blasting arias by Maria Callas as loudly and as near to her house as possible. Then again one is deeply moved by seeing Rufus and his mother, the late folk-singer Kate McGarrigle, sitting on her sofa, listening to an old record by Beniamino Gigli, which she herself inherited from her father.

This captivating documentary lives and breathes through the confessions of its protagonist, but also those of the opera's conductor Pierre-Andr' Valade, the director Daniel Kramer, Rufus' co-librettist Bernadette Colomine, the soprano Janis Kelly, who excels in the role of the Prima Donna, and even the opera-diva Ren'e Fleming, an appreciative, even fiery supporter of Rufus and this project. And there is also his family: his father and mother, aunt Anna, sister Martha, and his boyfriend. Rufus' father, the American Folk-Songwriter Loudon Wainwright III, tells stories of his seven-year old son, expressing his love of opera, and especially Tosca, by dancing through the house in his grandmother's apron (Rufus comments: 'I was shamelessly effeminate.').

His mother, with whom Rufus lived after the parents' divorce and to whom he always had a very close and friendly relationship, reports of her son's early musical experiments and his formative years. His sister Martha, a successful musician in her own right, tells private tales of his trials and tribulations, as does his boyfriend J'rn Weisbrodt, formerly the arts administrator of the Berlin State Opera 'Unter den Linden', Berlin. In addition, the viewer gets to discover quite a lot about the painstaking work on particular arias, the fantastic orchestration, and the libretto in French. One senses the tension and the efforts behind the scenes, while getting to hear gentle doubts and active encouragement.

All of this keeps leading back to Prima Donna, the opera about the diva R'gine Saint Laurent, who lost her voice along with her heart, and is now, six years after her retirement from the stage, attempting a comeback. 'She is a compound of Maria Calls, myself, my mother, and even my sister', Rufus admits. 'It is wonderful to see her being brought to life on stage.' Later in the film, right before the first rehearsal with the singers and the full orchestra in Manchester, Rufus Wainwright says: 'I'm enjoying being able to regurgitate . . . no, that's not a good word . . . to lay out all the years that I put into being an opera-fanatic. You know all the waiting in cancellation-lines, the overpriced tickets and sitting next to stinky people ' that's all paid-off.'

Some of the enthusiastic responses from the press show that it has also paid-off for the rest of the world. The Times called it 'a love song to opera', the Manchester Evening News found it to be 'thrilling', and The New York Times 'disarmingly beautiful'. Having glimpsed the many musical moments, the small crises, and the huge creativity, that the documentary Prima Donna ' The Story Of An Opera offers, one tends to agree. How wonderful that Rufus Wainwright finally wrote an opera.

3/2010

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DVD. PRIMA DONNA. Rufus Wainwright

DVD. PRIMA DONNA. Rufus Wainwright

DVD. Rufus Wainwright  PRIMA DONNA. The story of an opera

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