Luminato Festival: All Days Are Nights:Songs for Lulu

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Rufus Wainwright in his one-man show All Days Are Nights/Songs for Lulu (Photo: courtesy of Luminato Festival)

Luminato Festival: All Days Are Nights:Songs for Lulu

June 15, 2010 7:30 p.m. Elgin Theatre
Joseph K. So
A genuinely funny moment happened at the show last night. In the middle of the second half of Rufus Wainwright’s one-man show, he turned to the audience and said he’s dedicating the next song to the Toronto Star, in which the reviewer “compared my opera to a Loblaws bag as opposed to something you’d buy in Louis Vuitton – obviously he’s identified himself as a real label queen.” This was obviously a jab at John Terauds’ review of his Prima Donna. Love him or hate him – and there were no haters at the Elgin Theatre last evening – you can always count on Rufus Wainwright for a good laugh, as he has “the talent to amuse” as Noel Coward would say.
Although the show didn’t start out that way. In fact, a man came out before the start to tell the audience not to applaud until after Wainwright’s exit from the stage. The singer then came on in a black number with a long, long long train, a feathered collar but as usual with chest hair artistically exposed. He proceeded to play his new album as a tribute to his mother, the late Kate McGarrigle. There was no interaction with the audience. On the screen was a constantly morphing projection of eyes (sometimes one, other times a cluster) slowly opening and closing. During one particularly sad moment in the lyrics, a tear drop appeared at the corner of one giant eye. To my eyes – no pun intended – they resembled some exotic jungle plants like black venus fly traps ready to pounce, but that’s just me… If I was left a little underwhelmed by this strange tribute, I don’t think I was alone. The theatre was nearly full, but the applause at the end was tentative.
The second half was a different story. Wainwright became the guy his fans have always loved – sweetly pungent, flamboyant, sexy, willful, adorable, self-centered, and above all consummately entertaining. As with the little quip about the Star and the Loblaws bag, Wainwright wasn’t about to take a put down laying down. The songs in the second half were his chestnuts and the audience was suitably ecstatic. It was a generous program. Billed to last 2 hours including one intermission, I think it was closer to two and a half hours. He was in good voice, the instrument remained flexible and responsive to the end. As an encore, he sang a song written by his late mother, and sweetly thanked his fans for being so supportive during the past year. The audience was sent home happy.

About Author

Joseph K. So is Professor Emeritus at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, but his first love is music, which he studied as an undergraduate student at the State University of New York. Since seeing his first live opera – La Gioconda with Renata Tebaldi at the Met in 1967, the singing voice became his lifelong favourite instrument. In addition to his longtime contributions to La Scena Musicale and The Music Scene, he is Associate Editor of Opera Canada and a frequent contributor to Musical Toronto.

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