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Published8 Mar 2017

Opera Philadelphia Launches Free Breaking the Waves Audio Stream on March 29

On-demand release follows online celebration of women in opera

When Opera Philadelphia’s new adaptation of Lars von Trier’s searing Oscar-nominated film, Breaking the Waves made its world premiere in September 2016, the New York Times declared the opera “ambitious, accomplished, [and] dramatically direct,” and Opera News said it “stands among the best 21st-century American operas yet produced.” It has since earned an International Opera Award nomination for Best World Premiere and made its New York debut with Beth Morrison Projects’ Prototype Festival to continued acclaim.

Now, starting on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 at 1 p.m., home audiences the world over can listen to this spellbinding production in its entirety at operaphila.org/waves as the company unveils a free on-demand audio stream of the world premiere production that took the opera world by storm, capping off an online celebration in honor of Women’s History Month.

Kiera Duffy
Kiera Duffy stars in Breaking the Waves. Credit: Dominic M. Mercier

An Opera Philadelphia commission from the creative team of composer Missy Mazzoli, librettist Royce Vavrek, and director James Darrah, it was Breaking the Waves that launched the company’s fall 2016-2017 season. The premiere proved a sensation. The Wall Street Journal called it “savage, heartbreaking and thoroughly original,” and for Parterre, Breaking the Waves was, quite simply, “the most startling and moving new American opera in memory.”

Supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and produced by Opera Philadelphia with audio by George Blood L.P., the upcoming audio stream was captured on September 29 at the penultimate performance of the opera’s opening run, which starred soprano Kiera Duffy as Bess McNeill – in “an absolutely spectacular performance” (Opera News) – under the baton of Steven Osgood. Like Von Trier’s groundbreaking film, the opera depicts a tragedy of conflicting ethical imperatives that ultimately serves as a meditation on the nature of goodness. The audio will be available for streaming on-demand at operaphila.org/waves. The production includes explicit language, nudity, and sexual content, some of a violent nature. Recommended for mature audiences only. (See full credits below.)

The release of Breaking the Waves caps Opera Philadelphia’s Women’s History Month celebration devoted to shining a spotlight on women creating opera today. Throughout March, audiences will gain access to exclusive interviews, guest blog posts, and more on operaphila.org and Opera Philadelphia’s social media channels.

  • March 8: A new interview with esteemed director Robin Guarino, who will lead War Stories during Opera Philadelphia’s festival, O17, next fall, explores her experience in the male-dominated field at operaphila.org.
  • March 13-17: Breaking the Waves composer Missy Mazzoli takes over the Opera Philadelphia Instagram and Twitter accounts throughout the week with a peek at the contemporary innovators and women in history that have influenced her operatic life.
  • March 22: Hannah Moscovitch, renowned playwright and the librettist of I Have No Stories to Tell You, making its Philadelphia Premiere next fall, reveals her path to success in a guest blog post for operaphila.org.
  • March 29: Just before the Breaking the Waves audio cast release, Pulitzer-Prize winning composer Jennifer Higdon and Opera Philadelphia Composer in Residence Rene Orth sit down with Opera Philadelphia’s own New Works Administrator Sarah Williams for a Facebook LIVE discussion about what it takes to be a contemporary composer.

“We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate this month with living history-making women such as Missy, Jennifer, Hannah, Rene, and Robin,” said Opera Philadelphia New Works Administrator Sarah Williams. “From an opera written by a woman for a complex leading female character in Breaking the Waves, to other creative visionaries in the field (that just so happen to also be women), we honor their work and process by hearing from each of them.”

Stay tuned to Opera Philadelphia’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for upcoming announcements, and follow along using #WomenInOpera.

To download high-resolution photos, click here.

Opera Philadelphia: Breaking the Waves audio stream
Premieres March 29 at operaphila.org 

Produced by Opera Philadelphia 
Supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage 
Audio by George Blood L.P.

American Repertoire Program 
Co-commission and co-production with Beth Morrison Projects 
Music by Missy Mazzoli 
Libretto by Royce Vavrek 
Performed in English with English supertitles

BESS McNEILL: Kiera Duffy 
JAN NYMAN: John Moore* 
DODO McNEILL: Eve Gigliotti 
BESS’s MOTHER: Patricia Schuman 
DR. RICHARDSON: David Portillo 
TERRY: Zachary James* 
MINISTER: Marcus DeLoach

CONDUCTOR: Steven Osgood* 
DIRECTOR: James Darrah* 
SET DESIGN: Adam Rigg* 
COSTUME DESIGN: Chrisi Karvonides* 
LIGHTING DESIGN: Pablo Santiago*

*Opera Philadelphia debut

Support for the Breaking the Waves audio stream has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Major support for Breaking the Waves has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, the William Penn Foundation, and the Wyncote Foundation at the recommendation of Daniel K. Meyer, M.D. Additional support is provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, and OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. Additional commissioning support is provided by Allen Freedman & Judith Brick Freedman, and Chris Ahearn & Marla Mayer. The Composer in Residence program is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Breaking the Waves represents the most recent of the “new and challenging works” (Daily Beast) yielded by Opera Philadelphia’s innovative American Repertoire Program. Founded in 2011 with a commitment to producing a recent American work in each of ten consecutive seasons, and thereby fostering a new generation of homegrown opera composers, the program confirms the company’s role as “one of the leading instigators of new work in the country” (Opera News).

About Opera Philadelphia

Opera Philadelphia is committed to embracing innovation and developing opera for the 21st century. Described as “the very model of a modern opera company” by the Washington Post, Opera Philadelphia is charting a bold new path to September 2017, when Opera Philadelphia will open its 2017-18 season with an immersive, 12-day festival featuring seven operatic happenings in six venues throughout the city. The first festival, O17, will feature three world premieres, plus the exclusive East Coast appearance of Komische Oper Berlin's groundbreaking production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and a recital by superstar soprano Sondra Radvanovsky. Opera Philadelphia will continue to present a spring season each year, including two additional productions in February and April, making it the only U.S. opera company producing an annual opera season that begins with a dynamic festival.

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