Rufus Wainwright: Montreal’s prodigal son concludes his tour at home
Although he lives in Los Angeles, Montreal native Rufus Wainwright still keeps one foot in the city where he grew up. He’s coming home to end his “Unfollow the Rules” Canadian tour this week, and we took the opportunity to talk to him about some of his favourite spots in the city, his memories of Place des Arts, and his upcoming projects!
Did you make a conscious decision to finish the Canadian tour in Montreal?
I think my agents secretly know that I love to end a tour in Montreal and want to please me. My "Out of the Game" and my "Release the Stars" tours have ended in Montreal. There is always something wonderful to sing in your hometown, of course.
What do you enjoy when you come back home, especially after these past two pandemic years?
Actually, about a year ago my husband and I are sharing an apartment with two friends on one of our favourite streets in Montreal. We spent a beautiful week there last October, and during the Christmas vacation. I love walking through the streets of Montreal, there are some restaurants that are incredibly special, taking a walk-up Mount Royal has become a favorite of ours since we have a little dog, and going to Fairmount Bagel and eating the first one warm out of the bag is one of the great pleasures in life. And of course, Montreal is about seeing my family, my cousins and aunts but most importantly my amazing sister Martha and her two sons. I am very proud of Martha as she has written this amazing memoir called "Stories I might regret telling you".
What does doing a show in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier mean to you?
I saw my first operas in this hall and those are always incredibly fond and special memories. I have dreamed as a kid to perform here once. But my biggest dream would be that one of my operas would be fully staged here. Both of my operas "Hadrian" and "Prima Donna" were performed in Toronto but not in Montreal. Of course, I was super grateful when André Menard brought an abbreviated concert version of Prima Donna to the Place des Arts.
The “Unfollow the Rules” tour has featured both solo shows and shows with a new band. What can your Montreal audience expect?
I am coming to Montreal with my band. We are four musicians on stage, and I enjoy this slightly smaller "pandemic" set up immensely. We tried to keep the touring party as small as possible. Part of the concert are these projections that we created of drawings that I made for each song of the new album. When COVID hit, I had a lot of time staying at home and started making drawings for each of my songs on the album. It has been an incredible experience and my goal is to draw each one of my songs. I have to grow old...
You’re also working on another project at the same time, a tribute to Judy Garland.
I am releasing an album of new recordings of some of the songs from Judy Garland's 1961 famous concert on June 10th, 2022, Judy's 100th birthday, recorded with a small jazz ensemble at Capitol Studios, where Judy recorded most of her albums and used her microphone. I am also doing shows in New York and Chicago. I saw the Wizard of Oz as a kid like so many others and was totally fascinated by it. I would re-enact the Wicked Witch of the North and Glinda, the good witch or Dorothy on bad days and good days respectively. But I only started listening to the Judy Garland Carnegie Hall album actively after 9/11. It reminded me of what is great about America. Over the years these songs have grown in me, and I think only know can I really give them their full justice.
While awaiting the release of his next album, see Rufus Wainwright in Montreal, this Saturday, May 21, with his “Unfollow the Rules” show, including a selection of classics and songs from his recent critically acclaimed record.