The gay messiah comes to Prague
Tickets for Rufus Wainwright's first-ever show in the capital are selling out quickly
Posted: October 16, 2013
Courtesy Photo: Matthias Clamer
Rufus Wainwright appears in Prague as part of the Strings of Autumn festival.
The flamboyant son of famous folk-singer parents, singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright has lived a well-documented life of excess and extravagance that has fueled interest in his shows since the beginning. His talents as a singer are undeniable, his voice immediately recognizable, and come Oct. 21 he will showcase his songs at the Estates Theater as part of the capital's Strings of Autumn festival.
This will be Wainwright's first time performing in Prague, although he did take to the stage in Ostrava in 2012 with songs from his most recent album, Out of the Game, at the Colours of Ostrava music festival.
Born in New York City in 1973 to Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III, he spent most of his childhood in Canada, where he ultimately started performing with his mother, aunt and younger sister on tour as The McGarrigle Sisters and Family.
Wainwright's self-titled début album was released in 1998, and he immediately got attention for his openness about his private life. Making public that he is homosexual long before it became the new normal to do so, Wainwright has made the claim of being the first openly gay artist to be signed to a major record label.
When: Monday, Oct. 21, at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Estates Theater
Tickets: 100-1,900 Kč
His sexuality created tension in his family that was only publicly resolved very recently, when he performed with his father at The Royal Opera House in London in 2011, shortly after the death of Rufus' mother.
The performance included very personal material, such as Loudon Wainwright's "A Father and Son," which examines the struggles of his relationship with his son, and Rufus Wainwright's "Dinner at Eight," in which he pointedly takes down his father for not sticking with the family (McGarrifle and Wainwright III divorced when their son was 3 years old): "But 'til then no, Daddy, don't be surprised/ If I wanna see the tears in your eyes/ Then I know it had to be long ago/ Actually in the drifting white snow/ You loved me."
Wainwright has also been acclaimed for his rendition of fellow countryman Leonard Cohen's trademark "Hallelujah," a song that was featured prominently in the 2001 animation film Shrek. In 2011, Cohen's daughter Lorca gave birth to Viva, whose biological father is none other than Wainwright. Wainwright himself got married to German-born producer Jörn Weisbrodt in 2012.
No stranger to controversy, Wainwright's fourth album, Want Two, included a song titled "Agnus Dei" and another called "Gay Messiah," which featured the memorable stanza, "No, it will not be me/ Rufus the Baptist I be/ No, I won't be the one/ Baptized in cum."
Wainwright's first album featured a song titled "Damned Ladies," in which he mentions nine female characters from opera and theater (among them, Káťa Kabanová from Leoš Janáček's eponymous opera), and his fascination with female characters reached its apex in June 2006 when he performed a tribute to Judy Garland at the Royal Carnegie Hall under the tongue-in-cheek headline "Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall."
"Wainwright was not so much impersonating Garland as inhabiting the songs," wrote Gaby Wood at the time in The Guardian, also noting that many have interpreted Wainwright's interest with Garland as the product of his struggles with drugs (in particular, crystal meth), although it is also true that Garland has been a gay icon with an enormous following since shortly before her death in the late 1960s.
Rufus Wainwright's show at the Estates Theater is nearly sold out already and will be followed by a signing session for those with CDs or other memorabilia who wish to add the artist's signature to their collection.
André Crous can be reached at