Rufus Wainwright is in sunny California. He spends much of his time there these days, “in Hollywood”, as he says, adding a typical sense of glamour.
His main base is New York, however, where he was born before being raised in Montreal, Canada. And next month he heads to Europe for a tour which includes a date at the Usher Hall, in Edinburgh on 5 March.
Wherever he is, he’s a long way from the start of his first solo tour in Washington, some 20 years ago. With a Best Of collection, Vibrate, ready for release on March 3, he’s been thinking back to that first gig.
“The years have gone by in a flash,” he says. “It was only yesterday I was leaving for that first tour; I remember very vividly driving through Washington in the springtime with the cherry blossom blooming. It was a new beginning and I had the sense that it was the start of a very long journey.”
Vibrate sees him at a crossroads in his career. He’ll continue to tour as he has done regularly since that day in Washington, but will carry on pursuing opportunities in areas he’s only so far dipped his toe into, mainly opera and film scores (he premiered his debut opera Prima Donna at the Manchester International Festival in 2009, and has been commissioned to write one about Hadrian, the Roman emperor, by the Canadian Opera Company, due for 2018).
“Now I have a husband and daughter, I have to be somewhat available and present,” he says, referring to spouse, artist Jorn Weisbrodt, and daughter Viva, born to Wainwright and Lorca Cohen, daughter of legendary crooner Leonard.
“Although I’ll always tour – that’s how I make my money – I can’t go off for months on end. I wouldn’t say I’m entering a new era, but I finally feel as if that drive through the US capital among the cherry trees has ended, here in sunny California.”