The Canadian Opera Company (COC) have quietly released a video excerpt of Rufus Wainwright’s anticipated second opera, Hadrian, scheduled for a world premiere in Toronto Four Seasons’ Centre for the Performing Arts on October 13.
Now approaching 10 years after the premiere of his first opera Prima Donna, which many critics called more of an endearing love letter, rather than an opera, Hadrian marks Wainwright’s second bite at the craft.
The story is set in the classical era, and tells the tragic story of Hadrian, a Roman emperor from 76-138 AD), who falls in love with Antinous, who has drowned. Wainwright actually began composing Hadrian before Prima Donna, and was inspired by Yourcenar’s 1951 book Memoirs of Hadrian.
The video excerpt, release by the COC this week, features Johannes Debus conducting a hesitant sounding COC Orchestra through “Entr’acte” (“Between the Acts”). The music, with spritely plucked strings, and a lone oboe that emulates an ancient Roman tibia (not the bone variety). The music serves as a transition between Act I and II, and features the main theme gradually creeping forwards in the footsteps of the timpani, and under some slightly distant counterpoint.
While the excerpt is not nearly enough to make a judgement call, it certainly piques the interest as to what we can expect.
Judge for yourself, and watch the video below: