Warner Classics

It was only a matter of time before these two got together in a room to talk about their artform: mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and composer/singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright met this week at New York City’s SubCulture venue to host a discussion about opera and music, art and life…And everything in between.

While DiDonato regularly graces the stages of The Met, Covent Garden and historic opera houses all over the world (not to mention on a baseball pitch during the 2015 World Series to sing the national anthem to millions), Wainwright has written an acclaimed opera based on the life of a diva, though is is perhaps better known for his unique blend of pop and cabaret. The two singers may approach their artform from different backgrounds, there’s a lot of overlap, and the conversation flowed like music.

On the importance of opera today:

Joyce DiDonato: “I think that when humanity’s back is against the wall, that’s when we need to get innovative…just here in New York there are so many exciting groups like Prototype Opera, LoftOpera, this traveling opera HopScotch in Los Angeles. If we want to invite younger audiences to opera, you need to give them an invitation – give them opera. Don’t give them crossover or a dumbed-down version of opera, give them the real thing.”

Rufus Wainwright: “When I first fell in love with opera, when I was young, it was this monolithic, ivory tower of sorts – and I adored it, and part of the appeal was the impossible heights that opera presented, both musically and in terms of society, and I just thought I’d never be at the same level as these people. But now, with the ivory tower coming down, there’s an opening, there’s a way in, that is attracting people who love the form but might not necessarily be in that world. People who love opera and want to uphold the form, but bring a different approach.”

Read the entire feature here.