Back in 2009 singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright premiered Prima Donna, a modern opera following the fading star of infamous soprano Maria Callas. In a slightly surreal turn, Wainwright has now enlisted contemporary artists Francesco Vezzoli and Cindy Sherman to create a video installation for the opera’s grand finale next month in Athens. As art’s resident shapeshifter, Sherman stars as an ageing Callas in the film directed and shot by Vezzoli, who is no stranger to turning celebrity into satire.
“What made me want to do it is the fear that the character is going through. She’s old now. Can she live up to her audience’s expectations? I think it’ll free me up to just let it all hang out,” Sherman told Vanity Fair.
Sherman has spent the better part of four decades teasing ideas about identity with her conceptual and dramatic self-portraits, whilst Vezzoli’s work includes faux trailers for film remakes and an advertising campaign for a fictitious perfume starring Natalie Portman and Michele Williams. Together, they will bring new meaning and a multilayered character to Wainwright’s Prima Donna.
The film will premiere during a performance of Prima Donna at the Odeon of Herode Atticus in Athens on September 15.