Rufus Wainwright has transformed since his last pop album, 2012’s “Out of the Game.”
He married Jorn Weisbrodt and the two now have a daughter. He’s asleep by 10:30 and living a different life than his time in New York.
“I took a hiatus from the pop world to work on my Shakespeare album,” says Wainwright about 2015’s “Prima Donna” and 2016’s “Take All My Loves: 9 Shakespeare Sonnets.” “It feels great to be back. One of the reasons I went away for a bit was to fall back in love with my job. It’s important in everybody’s lives to take some time to focus on other things to realize you were doing the right thing all along.”
With the new single “Trouble in Paradise” under his belt, Wainwright will return to San Diego on Saturday, November 16, to perform with the San Diego Symphony.
“I’m really looking forward to this,” he says. “I haven’t done orchestra shows in a while. I’m very much excited to get back on that bandwagon.”
The gigs, he explains, are “easier and a lot harder.”
“It’s a lot easier because I’m working with such consummate professionals and real scholars in their field,” he says. “If I make a mistake, though, it’s a true train wreck.”
Wainwright is confident in his ability, though. He knows the songs well, so he doesn’t have to rehearse too much.
“The main thing is I just have to follow the conductor and be willing to compromise with them on musical choices, key, tempo and volume. You have to be very diplomatic.”
He admits he may one day return to opera.
“I adore the opera world,” he says. “I continue to flirt with that fire. I think, when I started off, I had some misconceptions about the way it worked. I thought they were all incredibly warm and welcoming and musically interesting.
“It dawned on me the classical world is very, very tough, brutal and demanding.”
Wainwright is back in the pop world with “Trouble in Paradise,” which meshes the fashion world with the state of the planet. Wainwright’s gem is intricate and vocally cinematic. The song will be included in a Mitchell Froom-produced album set for release in the spring.
“He’s an amazing pop producer of old,” says Wainwright, who will spend the holidays abroad performing Christmas shows with his family. “In a lot of ways, it’s my return to California, to my roots in the pop world, which are really based in L.A.
“I was first signed out there. All my early albums were recorded out there. I very much consider this new album a bookend to my first album, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary.”
Wainwright says there are distinct differences between Los Angeles and New York. He feels grounded in California.
“New York is more about the scene—who’s hip and cool,” he says. “I knew how to play that game, too. With California, it’s more about the material and the work you do in the studio and who you perform with. I’m happy to come back to that—even though I’m still the sexiest guy in the room.”
Rufus Wainwright w/San Diego Symphony Orchestra, 8 p.m. Saturday, November 16, Copley Symphony Hall, 750 B Street, Downtown, $20-$79, 619-235-0804, sandiegosymphony.org