Stage Door News

Madrid: Rufus Wainwright’s opera “Hadrian” receives its European premiere at the Teatro Real in 2022

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Rufus Wainwright’s opera Hadrian receives its European premeire in a semi-staged performance at the Teatro Real de Madrid.

The emperor Hadrian is devastated by the death of his young lover Antinous who drowned in strange circumstances in the Nile River. The affairs of state interfere with his grieving and his ministers clamour for war. However Hadrian manages to escape from the present, is reunited with Antinous, and discovers the truth about his death. At the end of his life the old emperor realizes that his only legacy is having loved.  Hadrian, the second incursion into opera by the Canadian – American singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, is part of an illustrious series of operatic titles –Pergolesi, Caldara or Johann Christian Bach, among others – where this Roman emperor is the protagonist. 

It premiered in Toronto in 2018 with baritone Thomas Hampson in the lead role that was tailored for him, and which he will repeat in our theatre. Using a musical palette which the composer defines as “ darker and more powerful” than his first opera –Prima donna–, and supported by  the  high impact images of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, Hadrian flows in a never ending journey between the fragile solace  of  memories  and the  indisputable reality of loss. 

Opera in four acts

Music by Rufus Wainwright (1973)

Libretto by Daniel Mcivor

With the special collaboration of Mapplethorpe Foundation

Premiered in the Canadian Opera Company of Toronto October 13th, 2018

Premiere in the Teatro Real

Opera in concert version semiscenefied versión de concierto semi-staged


Musical director I Scott Dunn

Images I Robert Mapplethorpe

Stage director I Jorn Weisbrodt

Choir director I Andrés Máspero

Titular Choir and Orchestra of the Teatro Real

Performance on July 27, 2021. Tickets on sale to the general public March 1, 2022.