Saturday, 11 July 2009
A few wrongs to Wainwright
They’re savaging Rufus over on a certain site, without having heard a note of his new ‘pastiche of an opera’ Prima Donna. Well, I haven’t encountered it yet either, though I’m sure that if a case is to be made, that fine singing actress Janis Kelly will make it*.
Anyway, Wainwright’s in good company being torn apart by the operahounds: Renee Fleming is the main target of bile, and for all her faults, when she’s good she’s great. I know because I’ve just been listening to her Rusalka, and she even scores over the divine Benackova in terms of amplitude at key moments.
As for whether our Rufe has bitten off more than he can chew now, I’ll leave it to the critics. I haven’t been keeping up with him recently, and can’t say whether the foolhardy attempt to echo Judy at Carnegie worked or not.
What I do know is that he’s produced some of the best songs of recent years: on Want One ‘Oh what a world’, ‘I don’t know what it is’ and ‘Dinner at eight’; on Want Two ‘Peach trees’ (my own personal favourite), ‘The art teacher’ and ‘Memphis skyline’.
Needless to say, none of this has been taken into account in the recent orgy of hate. A more intelligent discussion of whether or not RW will bring more pop fans to opera is to be found here.
*It seems she tried. Reviews catch RW between the devil and the deep blue sea. The usually astute Lynne Walker had this to say in The Independent and was roundly excoriated by most of her commenters (including one Dr. Jonathan Miller). On the other hand, this NME review is worth looking at, if only because it perpetrates the usual myths about opera and elitism. For a very witty piece of writing, go to Warwick Thompson on Bloomberg.