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. He is the son of folk singers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, and brother of Martha Wainwright but Rufus has achieved his success by carving out his own singular sound in the worlds of rock, opera, theater, dance and film.
Wainwright’s much acclaimed first opera, titled Prima Donna, premiered at the Manchester International Festival in July 2009. The opera will make its London debut at Sadler’s Wells in April 2010, and its North American debut in Toronto at the Luminato Festival in June 2010. The New York Times said, "There are inspired touches and disarmingly beautiful passages in this mysterious, stylistically eclectic work in Rufus Wainwright's first opera..." The London Times declared, "...the Canadian singer-songwriter hasn’t just written an opera. He’s written a love song to opera, soaked in the perennial operatic themes of loss, betrayal, delusion and nostalgia, and saturated in the musical styles of opera’s golden age."
He has composed a musical adaptation of Shakespeare Sonnets with noted Director Robert Wilson at the Berliner Ensemble which premiered in April of 2009 and continues to play to sold out houses.
Wainwright has released eight albums and two DVDs to date, and has appeared on numerous soundtracks and compilations, as well as collaborating with artists like Elton John, David Byrne, Rosanne Cash and Keane. His newest album titled, All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu, is will be released this year in March/April 2010. Rufus’ last album was a live recording from his Release The Stars tour titled, Milwaukee At Last!!!. His album prior to that, Rufus Does Judy At Carnegie Hall, was nominated for a Grammy. It was released concurrently with a live DVD (Rufus! Rufus! Rufus! Does Judy! Judy! Judy!) capturing his celebrated Judy Garland tribute performance at the London Palladium in 2007. His previous album, Release The Stars, went Gold in Canada and the U.K.
Wainwright has received Juno Awards for Best Alternative Album in 1999 and 2002 for Rufus Wainwright and Poses, respectively, and nominations for his albums Want Two (2005) and Release the Stars (2008). He was nominated for Songwriter of the Year in 2008 for his Release the Stars album. He also composed the original music for choreographer Stephen Petronio’s work BLOOM which has toured across the country.
In addition to Rufus’ musical pursuits, he has also made his mark onscreen. He has acted in Academy Award winning director Deny Arcand’s film, L’Âge des Ténèbres (2007), the Merchant Ivory film Heights (2005), and the major blockbuster The Aviator (2004) directed by Martin Scorsese. At age 14 he composed and sang a song in the film, Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller, which earned him a nomination for a 1989 Genie Award (Canada) for Best Original Song and a Juno Award for Most Promising Male Vocalist of the Year in 1990.