RUFUS WAINWRIGHT has penned his debut opera, which is set to premiere in Manchester next July.

PRIMA DONNA is being produced in partnership with Opera North and will tell the story of a fading Parisian opera singer.

"Since I was 14 years old I have been converted to the dark religion of opera," said Wainwright. "I'll even be dramatic about it: it has saved my life, guiding me through some pretty tough junctures."

Commenting on the commissioning, Manchester International director Alex Poots said: "Rufus Wainwright has an exceptional gift for melody and clearly has a deep affinity with opera. We're delighted to be working with him as he moves into this new form".

The Manchester International Festival 2009 will run from July 2nd to 19th, with Wainwright's opera being performed five times from July 10th.

Wainwright is not the only musician making forays into the festival, with last year's event hosting the premiere of Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett's stage show collaboration Monkey: Journey To The West.

13/10/2008 11:01:24