Saturday, October 6, 2018

Rufus Wainwright's "Hadrian" to premiere with adult warning

Thomas Hampson and David Leigh (costume sketch courtesy of Canadian Opera)
Rufus Wainwright's second opera, "Hadrian," will open on October 13th at the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto. The opera is about a gay relationship in ancient Rome between the Roman emperor Hadrian and his lover Antinous. Daniel MacIvor's libretto was inspired by Marguerite Yourcenar's novel "Memoirs of Hadrian," which Wainwright read twenty years ago.

"Antinous and Hadrian," an opera based on the same story, was recently completed by composer Clint Borzoni and librettist Edward Ficklin, and was presented in New York in 2017 in concert form. You can hear the beautiful love scene HERE.

This is pop singer Rufus Wainwright's second attempt at opera, after "Prima Donna," which premiered at the New York City Opera in 2009, featuring barihunk Randal Turner.

Wainwright's "Hadrian" comes with an adult warning and features a musical interlude where Hadrian and Antinous make love. The cast includes the ageless barihunk Thomas Hampson as Hadrian, tenor Isaiah Bell as his lover Antinous, Karita Mattila as Plotina, bass-barihunk David Leigh as Turbo, Ambur Braid as Sabina and Ben Heppner as Dinarchus. The piece is sung in English and Latin.

The story is about Emperor Hadrian, who is devastated after his lover Antinous drowns in the Nile River. While matters of state encroach on his grief and advisers clamor for war against a radical new threat to the Empire, Hadrian slips out of time to re-encounter the vision and reality of Antinous—and learn the truth about what happened on the Nile.

There are seven performances between October 13-27 and tickets are available online.

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