Published23 Feb 2021
Breaking the Waves to stream on both the Opera Philadelphia Channel and LA Opera On Now
Co-presentation of remastered 2016 world premiere is one of several spring programming updates
In its first season of streaming original, made-for-the-screen opera films and programs, the Opera Philadelphia Channel has been described by the New York Times as “laying claim to the mantle of making new material during the pandemic” and “one of the best bets going, worldwide.” The company announces several new program additions to its upcoming streaming lineup, featuring collaborations with LA Opera, the National Museum of American Jewish History, and the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.
First up is a stream of the popular 2016 world premiere production of Breaking the Waves from composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek, winner of the inaugural Best New Opera award from the Music Critics Association of North America. Presented in partnership with LA Opera, where the production had been scheduled to be staged this month, the streamed recording will be co-presented on the Opera Philadelphia Channel and LA Opera On Now beginning on Friday, March 12. Director James Darrah, who guided the world premiere production, presents an uncensored and remastered release of the 2016 recording, featuring color correction by cinematographer and colorist Michael Thomas, remastered sound from George Blood Audio, and a new edit from Active Image Media. With its intense subject matter, violence, language and nudity, Breaking the Waves is recommended for mature audiences only.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG)was notoriously passionate about opera. It is no surprise that the plots of her favorite operas often paralleled her professional pursuit of justice. To mark her 88th birthday, the first since her passing, Opera Philadelphia is partnering with the National Museum of American Jewish History and the Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music to celebrate with performances of some of her favorite opera arias. For the Love of Opera: Celebrating RBG’s 88th Birthday, a free program of music and reflection, premieres on Monday, March 15, at 8:00 p.m. ET on Facebook Live, and will be available on-demand on the Opera Philadelphia Channel.
With these program additions, Opera Philadelphia also announces the postponement of a filmed version of Hans Werner Henze’s El Cimarrón, which had been scheduled for a March streaming premiere. The opera, which had been slated to be filmed in Philadelphia in January 2021, was postponed due to travel and gathering restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Opera Philadelphia intends to revisit the project in an upcoming season.
Breaking the Waves
Co-presented with LA Opera
Premiering on Friday, March 12
Free with an Opera Philadelphia Channel Season Pass
An Opera Philadelphia commission from Composer in Residence Missy Mazzoli, librettist Royce Vavrek and director James Darrah, under the baton of Steven Osgood, Breaking the Waves premiered on September 22, 2016. Adapted from Lars von Trier’s searing Oscar-nominated film, the opera depicts a tragedy of conflicting ethical imperatives that serves as a meditation on the nature of goodness.
Starring soprano Kiera Duffy as Bess and baritone John Moore as Jan, the premiere proved a sensation. The Wall Street Journal called Breaking the Waves “savage, heartbreaking and thoroughly original,” and Opera News counted it “among the best 21st-century American operas yet produced.” After traveling to New York’s Prototype Festival, the opera was recognized with the Music Critics Association of North America (MCANA)’s inaugural Best New Opera Award.
Set in the Scottish Highlands in the early 1970s, Breaking the Waves depicts a tragedy of conflicting ethical imperatives: between the pure love of child-like Bess McNeill for her husband, Norwegian oil-rig worker Jan, and the repressive morality of her deeply religious Calvinist community. When Jan becomes paralyzed after a near-fatal offshore accident, he begs Bess to take other lovers and share the details, insisting that this will keep their passion – and him – alive. She puts herself in increasingly dangerous sexual situations, convinced that by doing so she can save him. Her self-sacrifice leads to her denunciation, excommunication, and eventual demise, but also to the finale of divine grace with which the story concludes.
The stream will be available to Opera Philadelphia Channel Season Pass holders through the current season, which ends on May 31.
For the Love of Opera: Celebrating RBG’s 88th Birthday
Co-presented with National Museum of American Jewish History and the Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music
Premiering on Monday, March 15, at 8:00 p.m. on Facebook Live
Available on-demand on the Opera Philadelphia Channel
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG)was notoriously passionate about opera. It is no surprise that the plots of her favorite operas often paralleled her professional pursuit of justice. To mark her 88th birthday, the first since her passing, Opera Philadelphia is partnering with the National Museum of American Jewish History and the Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music to celebrate with performances of some of her favorite opera arias from works like Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, and Verdi’s Falstaff.
The program will feature performances filmed in the National Museum of American Jewish History’s Dell Theater by tenor Joshua Blue, baritone Norman Garrett, soprano Michelle Rice, and soprano Ashley Marie Robillard, with accompaniment by pianists Stephen Karr and Grant Loehnig; as well as remarks and reflections by tenor and Opera Philadelphia artistic advisor Lawrence Brownlee; Peter Kazaras, stage director, tenor, and Director of Opera at UCLA; and Francesca Zambello, artistic director of Washington National Opera.
About the Opera Philadelphia Channel
The Opera Philadelphia Channel creates a digital space in which artists can perform and explore, through a series of new commissions by visionary composers and dynamic performances produced for the screen. Season subscriptions priced at $99 are offered along with pay-per-view rental options for individual performances. The channel is available for viewing on computers and mobile devices, and on TV screens via Chromecast and the Opera Philadelphia Channel app on AppleTV, Android TV, Roku, and Amazon FireTV.
The Opera Philadelphia Channel has been made possible by the Disosway Foundation, Inc., and by Wyncote Foundation at the recommendation of Frederick R. Haas and Rafael Gomez. Major Support has been provided by Ms. Robin Angly, Maureen Craig and Glenn Goldberg, Joel and Sharon Koppelman, and Ellen Steiner. Additional Support has been provided by Mr. Jeffrey P. Cunard and Ms. Mariko Ikehara, Katie Adams Schaeffer and Tony Schaeffer, the Howard and Sarah D. Solomon Foundation, and Laura A. Williamson.
For more information, visit operaphila.tv.