Prima Donna

Composed by Rufus Wainwright

June 14 – 19, 2010

Presenting Partner
The Weather Network

Additional Support
Yves Saint Laurent
Government of Ontario
Gretchen and Donald Ross


A former diva confronts her demons in the stunning debut opera by on eof the most distinctive figures in popular music today. Acclaimed singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright has long been a fan of opera. Now he has written his own: a modern spin on the grand Romantic tradition.

★★★★ A love song to opera

—The Times (London)
Set in Paris in 1970, Prima Donna depicts a day in the life of Régine Saint Laurent, a once-adored soprano who suddenly and mysteriously quit the stage after achieving the greatest triumph of her career. Now, six years later, she contemplates a comeback, spurred on by the unexpected resurgence of romance in her life. But love, as any opera buff knows, can be a dangerous emotion.

After thrilling UK audiences last summer, Prima Donna makes its North American debut in a new production co-commissioned by Luminato and staged by renowned opera director Tim Albery, who brought Luminato audiences last year’s sensational The Children’s Crusade. For lovers of opera and contemporary music alike, this is one of the must-see events of the year.
Commissioned by Luminato, Manchester International Festival, Sadler's Wells, and Melbourne International Arts Festival.


Régine Saint Laurent - Janis Kelly
Régine Saint Laurent Janis Kelly
Janis Kelly

Heralded as a “singing actress of near genius” (Sunday Times) who “has such natural grace and emotional eloquence that she cannot fail to touch the heart” (Independent), soprano Janis Kelly originated the title role of Rufus Wainwright’s “Prima Donna” in Manchester, with subsequent performances in London and Toronto.  At the opera’s debut, the Financial Times summed: “In the Callas-like title role Janis Kelly gives the performance of her life.”

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Régine Saint Laurent - Janis Kelly
Marie (maid) - Charlotte Ellett
Marie (maid) Charlotte Ellett
Charlotte Ellett

The lyric soprano Charlotte Ellett has earned distinction both on the concert platform and the opera stage. Her warm bright voice and natural musicianship make her ideal for a wide variety of repertoire. Following studies at the Royal Northern College of Music and the National Opera Studio, she began her career at Glyndebourne, following this with appearances as an Associate Artist at Welsh National Opera. Her subsequent operatic roles include Miss Wordsworth in Albert Herring, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Despina in Così fan tutte, Iphis in Jephtha and Zerlina in Don Giovanni. Her repertoire also includes Mozart's Requiem, Handel's Messiah, Poulenc's Stabat Mater, Bach's Christmas Oratorio and St Matthew Passion, Poulenc's Gloria and Rossini's Stabat Mater.

Marie (maid) - Charlotte Ellett
Philippe (butler) - Gregory Dahl
Philippe (butler) Gregory Dahl
Gregory Dahl

Gregory Dahl has attained a position of prominence among baritones of his generation with performances notable for richness of characterization and a remarkable vocal authority. Mr. Dahl’s performances in PELLEAS ET MELISANDE for Opera Theater of St. Louis were hailed for his “appealingly lyrical baritone [that] emphasized Golaud’s inner turmoil over his villainy”.

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Philippe (butler) - Gregory Dahl
André Le Tourner (journalist) - Colin Ainsworth
André Le Tourner (journalist) Colin Ainsworth
Colin Ainsworth

Canadian tenor Colin Ainsworth has distinguished himself with his exceptional singing, remarkable diction, and diverse repertoire stretching from the Baroque to modern music. Acclaimed for his interpretations of the major Classical and Baroque operas, his many roles have included the title roles in Orphée et Euridice, Pygmalion, Castor et Pollux, Roberto Devereux, Albert Herring, and more. Also an avid supporter of new works, he has appeared in the world premieres of John Estacio’s Lillian Alling at the Vancouver Opera, Stuart MacRae’s The Assassin Tree at the Edinburgh International Festival, Victor Davies’ The Transit of Venus with the Manitoba Opera, and Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna at Sadler’s Wells in London and at the Luminato Festival. Read more >

André Le Tourner (journalist) - Colin Ainsworth

Creative Team

Affectionately referred to by Elton John as “the greatest songwriter on the planet” and praised by the New York Times for his “genuine originality,” Rufus Wainwright has established himself as one of the great male vocalists and songwriters of his generation. The New York-born, Montreal-raised singer songwriter has released seven studio albums, three DVDs, and three live albums, including the fantastic Grammy nominated Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall, which captured his celebrated Judy Garland tribute performance at the London Palladium in 2007, and the album Release The Stars which went Gold in Canada and the U.K.

Rufus Wainwright 

Rufus Wainwright

Tim Albery

Robert Houssart

Antony McDonald