Speaking with Rufus Wainwright
By Thomas Conner
© Chicago Sun-Times
His music keeps getting more ambitious, more grandiose, more opulently operatic — and his fans keep lapping it up. Rufus Wainwright, the young darling of a profound musical legacy (the Wainwright-McGarrigle clan), re-created Judy Garland's old act at Carnegie Hall earlier this year, to rave reviews (the CD and DVD of the show are out this fall), and he just released his latest disc, "Release the Stars," to still more acclaim.
So he's back on tour, and back at Ravinia — but this time without lil' Ben Folds in tow — at 7:30 p.m. Saturday ($45 pavilion, $20 lawn; call (847) 266-5100 or visit ravinia.org).
Q. What's new in the show?
A. A lot compared to shows I've done recently in Chicago. I haven't done a big show there in a while. The Ravinia shows have been pared down; this one's got a big, heavy band, with the full breadth of my material — my songs, French songs, Judy Garland songs.
Q. And did I hear correctly you're doing costume changes?
A. Well, you know, I always love taking my clothes off. Without giving too much away, it's very, uh, ethnic and Hollywood.
Q. How was Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant as a producer on "Release the Stars"?
A. He was helpful in reminding me that there's an audience out there, that my lofty goals are great but it's important to get on radio and make a couple of bucks, too. Like the song "Tiergarten" started out a bit dirgey. He said I needed some snappy tunes, and I followed his lead. Now it's almost a reggae song.
Q. When you get off the road, you're writing an opera?
A. Yes, it's called "Prima Donna," and it has nothing to do with Madonna. It's about an opera singer, because I love the genre. I love those characters — Maria Callas or Joan Sutherland — those opera divas. They need their own opera.
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These online "clips" reproduce a self-selection of my journalism (music etc) during the last 20+ years. It's a lotta stuff, but it only scratches the surface. I do not currently possess the time or resources to digitize the whole body of work. These posts are simply a bunch of pretty great days at the office.