Well Rufus seems to have hit the mother load. If only ambition and flamboyance were enough. Fortunately mainstream opera singers, including Rene Fleming, seem to hate contemporary music and feel no responsibility whatsoever to it. Rather there is a desperate attempt to make this "popular work" work with a team of professionals.
This is perhaps the biggest open secret of the cross over newpopclassical music. These works would not exist without the helping hands of paid professionals. Oddly, it also seem that the composer is not always in charge or the guiding force behind these adaptions. The gate keepers are. Sometime they are even unaware of the changes made to get the work on the boards.
Back to topic.
Singers with extraordinary tessituras are hired. not because their sound reveals their character, but because of a lack of understanding of their instrument. The only human thing is his partial willingness to let his team create for him.
Partial? My experience with pop music "leaders," especially successful ones, is that they are spoiled and arbitrary. There is never a musical reason for a decision. Only an expression of personal desire - of power.
This is fine for a personal style but not for work with other music professionals. You see the professionals share a common language that pop stars don't.
We are told this opera is popular because it is popular and in a popular style. Yet it pushes the envelope as well. This goes back to MN's own Philip Brunelle claiming that it took courage to perform crowd pleasing Paul McCartney.
Opera does not just consist of the forgettable new work performed at the big houses and mainstream institutions.
On the positive side Rufus is an opera queen. Yet the love of singers, arias, and their high notes in the abstract does not provide cover for a lack of dramatic, vocal, and compositional skills. I'm afraid the low standard of vocal writing by the recent crop of successful opera composers continues here and is perhaps surpassed. On the other hand for an opera packaged for this market check out the last emperor.
I've already spent time discussing Mr.Wainright's obvious advantages as a "famous" song writer. Otherwise why would we be here?
To quote Rufus "all the cool people in LA hang together."
I guess that's what opera needs.