Prima Donna by Rufus Wainwright takes to the stage in Stockholm

Prima Donna by Rufus Wainwright takes to the stage in Stockholm
© Royal Swedish Opera/Sören Vilks

Prima Donna, a tribute to the art of Romantic opera by Rufus Wainwright will be presented in a new production and a reduced orchestration by the Royal Swedish Opera. The libretto is by Wainwright and his collaborator Bernadette Colomine.

In response to limitations involved by COVID-19 the orchestra has been reduced to 28 players by Wainwright and conductor Jayce Ogren, who leads the world premiere of this new version on October 10. Subsequent performances take place until November 14.

Premiered at the Manchester International Festival in 2009, Prima Donna tells the story of a self-destructive diva and as an audience, our insatiable need to both applaud her and mock her. From an apartment in 1970s Paris, faded opera diva Régine Saint Laurent is planning a return to the stage after years in seclusion. Her career ended abruptly following a traumatic performance six years earlier and her revival, despite being past her prime, is encouraged by her devoted servants Philippe and Marie. The question is, will her voice and her nerves cope with a return to the limelight? As our diva attempts to turn back the clock and regain her glamorous existence in the privacy of her own home, she appears to be gradually distancing herself from the world. A visit from André, a journalist who is a singer himself and with romantic feeling towards our protagonist, awakens her hope that all is not lost, but will she be able to overcome her demons?

The production is directed by Mårten Forslund and designed by Sabine Theunissen. Soprano Elin Rombo takes the title role of Régine Saint Laurent and is joined by Baritone Jeremy Carpenter as Philippe her butler, soprano Beate Mordal as her Maid, tenor Conny Thimander as Andre, a journalist.

Listen to Prima Donna on Spotify

Watch a video of making Prima Donna


Explore Wainwright’s second opera Hadrian from 2018, commissioned by the Canadian Opera Company. The opera tells the story of Emperor Hadrian devastated after his lover Antinous drowns in the Nile River. While matters of state encroach on his grief, and advisors clamour 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.