Mattila and Hampson are cast in the new Rufus Wainwright opera

Mattila and Hampson are cast in the new Rufus Wainwright opera


norman lebrecht

August 23, 2018

The venerable US baritone Thomas Hampson will play the Emperor Hadrian and and Finnish soprano Karita Mattila the ex-empress Plotina in a new opera of classical Rome by the Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright.

Canadian Opera Company have scheduled seven performances in October. The opera will be sung in English and Latin.



  • Novagerio says:

    She looks more and more like Siv Wennberg…

  • Caravaggio says:

    That Rufus Wainright now thinks he can compose opera, and be taken seriously, is nothing short of laughable.

    • Anon says:

      Totally agree.

    • Anon says:

      I remember having to suffer thru him trying to warble his way thru a couple of opera arias he happened to fancy in a concert. It was dreadful. Why is his every whim indulged like this?

      • Caravaggio says:

        Just as bad are people like Hampson and Mattila lending their support by participating in this sham. Then again, Hampson and Mattila have for long degenerated into camp acts. In the current diminished artistic climate, it is what has kept their careers alive and even earned them “respect”.

  • Lawrence Kershaw says:

    How – and why – are companies still expending time and valuable resources on this charlatan? Do they not see how few repeat productions these pieces receive?

    • buxtehude says:

      Maybe because of all the dreck they produce from the conservatories and masters of “contemporary music,” works held briefly aloft by public money, which manage few or no subsequent productions and sound predictably awful to boot while praised by critics that few follow.

      A crisis, ladies and gentlemen, a crisis. Persons better qualified than me, an ignoramus, ought to be ringing the alarms from every bell tower.

      • Ms.Melody says:

        Well said. Unfortunately, nobody will heed or hear our alarms. Companies are committed to supporting and promoting new operas in order to keep the genre alive, while killing the classical works with dreadful Regie productions in the name of making them “relevant”. Somebody decided that great works of art do not stand the test of time and therefore need to be reworked an updated to suit the lowest of tastes and instincts. Canadian opera company has performed some awful contemporary works in the past to critical acclaim. Waste of money and sin singers talents IMHO. The critics are afraid to say anything negative for fear of being called conservative, reactionary or just ” not getting it”. And so it is perpetuated. Nobody wants to shout that the king is and has been for a long time now, naked

        • AMetFan says:

          Well stated and absolutely true. Old does not mean antiquated. Great works remain great works. Dreck will quickly be forgotten. If new works are to be performed, it should be in workshop settings, not in fully and expensively produced venues. Performances in major venues are earned.

          Even at the advanced stages of their careers, esteemed performers (still) such as Karital Mattila and Thomas Hampson should not fritter away the last years of their careers on questionable projects, just because they are promoted by a pop name. Yes, people will come, but the lasting damage to their legacies is not worth the late-career employment.

  • Don Fatale says:

    Wainwright has more passion for opera and its traditional virtues than many directors of today. Additionally, his quite sophisticated pop songs display considerable talent. I think I’ll wait to hear this piece before condemning it.

    • Caravaggio says:

      “Passion for opera” is not good enough. I know a few old ladies who are too. So what. Wainwright has been and remains first and foremost an amateur and a dilettante.

      • Anon says:

        Exactly. He is an amateur and a dilettante whose whims are for some reason being indulged.

        My experience is that he is not very pleasant to work with and treats the legitimate musicians who “serve” him in these ridiculous, self indulgent projects with great disdain.

        Apparently he has a huge and devoted following in the gay community. He seems to use his sexuality as a career tool. He’s openly gay when it serves him, but he had a child by Leonard Cohen’s daughter which he seems to feel gives him some kind of musical credibility. Not.

  • Sue says:

    Yaaaaaaawn. Just shows what some folks are prepared to do for bucks.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Nicolas Slonimsky would have loved this thread.

    And the mentioned singers probably wanted to relax, for once, instead of being pressured by all that weight of classical music:

    These occasions are always interesting revelations about some classical performers’ taste and personality.