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Rufus Wainwright and His Mom Catch History at the Metropolitan Opera

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Last night at the Met, the transcendent happened during Act One of Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment. Much as he did last year at La Scala (breaking a 74-year-old “no encores” tradition there), the Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Floréz got such an orgiastic ovation after knocking Fille’s famous “Ah, mes amis” aria out of the ballpark that he instantly reprised it — apparently there hasn’t been a reprise at the Met since Pavarotti did one in Tosca in 1994 — bringing the audience to its feet mid-show. At intermission, we asked opera enthusiast Rufus Wainwright if an audience had ever begged him to reprise a song on the spot. “I haven’t,” he said, “but my mother has, with the Everly Brothers.”

Luckily, his mother, folk singer Kate McGarrigle, was standing right next to him. Do tell! “Well, it wasn’t onstage,” she explained, “but the Everly Brothers did ask us” — the longtime duo of Kate and her sister, Anna — “to do a song over and over. ‘Complainte pour Sainte Catherine,’ which is one of our songs. It was live with them, in a bar, singing, having fun at a party…”

“At four in the morning,” Rufus chimed in, “in a hotel room with the Everly Brothers.” Did such things happen often with the Everlys?, we asked. “It happened once,” Kate replied primly, “and it was a fabulous time.”

“Has anybody asked me to do anything twice?” a mournful Rufus asked. “No, not yet. But I’m so young! I have decades and decades to do it.” —Tim Murphy

Rufus Wainwright and His Mom Catch History at the Metropolitan Opera