Hadrian (opera)

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Opera by Rufus Wainwright
LibrettistDaniel MacIvor
13 October 2018 (2018-10-13)
WebsiteCanadian Opera Company

Hadrian is an opera composed by American-Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, scheduled to premiere on October 13, 2018 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto by the Canadian Opera Company. It is based on the life of Hadrian (76–138 AD), who was Roman emperor from 117 to 138. The libretto is written by Canadian actor, director and playwright Daniel MacIvor. Hadrian is Wainwright's second opera, following Prima Donna (2009).[1]

Background and development[edit]

Marble bust of Hadrian at the Palazzo dei Conservatori

Hadrian is Wainwright's second opera, following Prima Donna, which premiered at the Manchester International Festival in 2009. Wainwright was inspired by Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian (1951) and began composing Hadrian before Prima Donna. However, lacking the confidence to "navigate all the emotional possibilities" that Hadrian would require, he concentrated his efforts on Prima Donna as his first opera production.[2]. On March 21, 2018, Cincinnati Opera and CCM Opera's joint Opera Fusion: New Works program presented excerpts from Hadrian and answered questions about the upcoming production.[3]

A dress rehearsal was performed on October 11, 2018.[citation needed]


The opera focuses on Hadrian's relationship with Antinous, who has drowned. According to Wainwright and MacIvor, "You've got everything. A big chorus, lots of characters, the Nile... a love story... a political story... all the elements of traditional grand opera."[2] MacIvor has also said of the opera: "The mystery of why Hadrian's remarkable love for Antinous – underlined by his bottomless grief – has not been celebrated widely as a model of eros points to a fear of same-sex love that has changed little from his age to ours. The deeper I delve into Hadrian's world and his time, the more parallels I see to how we live today."[2] According to the Canadian Opera Company, the opera will be performed in English.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wainwright, Rufus. "'Hadrian' to premiere at the Canadian Opera Company on October 13th, 2018". Rufus Wainwright Official Website. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Michaels, Sean (December 3, 2013). "Rufus Wainwright to compose opera about Roman emperor Hadrian". The Guardian. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  3. ^ "Opera Fusion: New Works - Rufus Wainwright's Hadrian". Cincinnati Opera. Cincinnati Opera. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  4. ^ "Hadrian". Canadian Opera Company. Canadian Opera Company. Retrieved March 17, 2018.