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New Zealand at Last for Baroque Pop Star

New Zealand at Last for Baroque Pop Star

When Rufus Wainwright takes the stage at the Wellington Town Hall for the New Zealand International Arts Festival next year it will be solo with a Steinway D grand piano.

This performance heralds Wainwright's next project that he describes simply as a solo piano and voice record that is in the works for a 2010 release. “It’s sort of a little break from all these intense operas and Judy Garland shows and rock concerts and stuff,” Wainwright told Rolling Stone magazine. “I just want to bring it down a moment until my next universal blast-off.”

The singer-songwriter has been dubbed a ‘baroque pop star’ highlighting his ability to navigate the border between pop and classical music.

Wainwright has just released his latest album Milwaukee at Last!!! recorded live at the Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with a seven piece band. He collaborated with documentary great Albert Maysles who shot the 1970s classics Gimme Shelter and Grey Gardens.

“I'm in love with that theatre... It used to be the centre of opera for the Midwest; it's this beautiful opera house in the middle of a cornfield. And I love mid-western audiences. They're so appreciative, and they're not so jaded, and they're real,” Wainwright recently told New York Magazine.

Earlier this year his opera Prima Donna debuted at the Manchester International Festival. It was originally for the Metropolitan Opera in New York but Wainwright chose to write it in French instead of English and the project was relocated to Britain. Prima Donna will be performed at the Luminato Festival in Toronto as well as Melbourne next year.

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“At just 36, Rufus Wainwright is the consummate performer whose repertoire not only includes his own signature work but standards that he has made his own. I was first introduced to him when he took to the stage to sing Hallelujah in the Leonard Cohen tribute Came So Far For Beauty, which I produced at the Sydney Opera House,” says Lissa Twomey, Artistic Director of the New Zealand International Arts Festival.

Back home at his Chelsea apartment in New York City, Wainwright performed at Carnegie Hall last month in a line up that included actress Scarlett Johansson. He considers Carnegie Hall home and in 2007 he dressed up as his idol Judy Garland for a concert there that has been turned into a CD and DVD.

This month he is performing at the New York City Opera/American Voices Opening Gala and Concert.

Wainwright is true to his pedigree and then some. The singer-songwriter was born to folksingers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle in the upstate New York town of Rhinebeck, and was Gold Partners: New Zealand Post Group, TV3, Clemenger BBDO, Pacific Blue. Funders: Absolutely Positively Wellington, Creative New Zealand

then raised with his mother in Montreal, Canada. His sister is Martha Wainwright, the folk-rock singer songwriter.

Rufus Wainwright’s Festival performance is sponsored by The Radio Network.

WHEN: 27 February

WHERE: Wellington Town Hall

“This boy is simply, fabulously and stunningly talented. And being swept away is essentially what listening to Rufus Wainwright is like.” BBC


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