2 December 2013

Canadian Opera Company Commissions Rufus Wainwright to Compose Opera About Roman Emperor Hadrian

Canadian Opera Company has commissioned a new opera from singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright and playwright Daniel MacIvor, the company's general director, Alexander Neef, announced today. 

Entitled Hadrian, the work, which is currently in development, will be inspired by the Roman emperor's tragic love for the Greek youth Antinous during the the dawn of monotheism. It has been slated to open Canadian Opera Company's 2018-19 mainstage season.  

"We began the process of creating a new opera for the Canadian Opera Company several years ago, and I'm very proud to say that we are now at the stage where we can make the news public," Neef said in a press release issued today by the company. "Bringing a world premiere to the COC's mainstage is a significant undertaking for the company and we're proud to say that all the elements are now in place to make a strong project. Rufus and I have been talking about what Hadrian would look like for at least three years now and I'm very excited about the musical and dramatic direction that this piece will take."

Hadrian will mark Wainwright's second foray into opera, following the 2009 world premiere of Prima Donna at the Manchester International Festival and its subsequent performances in London, Toronto and New York. Playwright Daniel MacIvor, whose award-winning pieces for theatre including See Bob Run, The Soldier Dreams, You Are Here, Arigato, Tokyo and The Best Brothers, will write his first opera libretto.

"The story of Hadrian and Antinous has long fascinated me," said the Grammy-nominated and Juno Award-winner Wainwright. "Be it through initially reading Marguerite Yourcenar's classic novel Memoirs of Hadrian, going further afield in investigating the history surrounding his reign — arguably one of the most critical periods in the western time line since it represents the end of the classical era — or most importantly visiting Tivoli, Hadrian's villa near Rome, which, though crumbling, impressively illustrates the might and vision of an incredible man. He was an Emperor filled with ambition, sensitivity and intelligence and like all big political figures he also had a tormented and brooding dark side. Perfect opera material." 

Hadrian will be just the fifth commission to receive its world premiere on Canadian Opera Company's mainstage since 1950. spacer 

More information can be found at Canadian Opera Company.

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