Opera Philadelphia

Breaking the Waves Shortlisted for International Opera Award

By Aubrey Nagle

Chamber opera by composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek nominated for Best World Premiere.

Breaking the Waves, the critically acclaimed chamber opera co-commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and Beth Morrison Projects, has been shortlisted for the 2017 International Opera Award for World Premiere. Composer Missy Mazzoli, an alumna of Opera Philadelphia's Composer in Residence Program, and librettist Royce Vavrek are in good company among stand-out nominees from all over the world: Thomas Adès' The Exterminating Angel (Salzburg Festival); Elena Langer's Figaro Gets a Divorce (Welsh National Opera); Anno Schreier's Hamlet (Theater an der Wien); Bright Sheng's Dream of the Red Chamber (San Francisco Opera); and Miroslav Srnka's South Pole (Bayerische Staatsoper).

Based on Lars von Trier's 1996 Oscar-nominated film and directed by James DarrahBreaking the Waves received high praise for its World Premiere held at the Perelman Theater in September 2016. Declaring the opera “ambitious, accomplished, [and] dramatically direct,” the New York Times pointed out: “It is not easy to find new operas that command attention, tell their story lucidly and create a powerful, permeating mood. Dark and daring, Breaking the Waves does all this with sensitivity and style.” For the Wall Street JournalBreaking the Waves was “savage, heartbreaking and thoroughly original,” while Opera News declared it "among the best 21st-century American operas yet produced." At its January 2017 New York City Premiere during Beth Morrison Projects' PROTOTYPE Festival, Breaking the Waves continued to earn commendations.

Soprano Kiera Duffy created the role of the unforgettable Bess McNeill and her performance was roundly praised, deemed "fearless" by both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Powerful baritone John Moore starred alongside Duffy as Bess's loving husband Jan, with the star-studded cast rounded out by mezzo-soprano Eve Gigliotti as Dodo, bass Zachary James as Terry, tenor David Portillo as Dr. Richardson and renowned soprano Patricia Schuman as Bess's Mother. Members of the Opera Philadelphia Chorus made a memorably haunting turn as members of Bess's Cavlinist church.  

The Opera Awards shortlist also featured quite a few beloved members of the Opera Philadelphia family. Tenor Lawrence Brownlee, who created the role of Charlie Parker in the 2015 premiere of Charlie Parker's YARDBIRD, was nominated for Best Male Singer as well as Best Recording (Solo Recital) for his album Allegro io son. Philadelphia's own Eric Owens, the renowned bass-baritone who made his role debut as King Phillip II in Opera Philadelphia's Don Carlo (2015), was also nominated for Best Male Singer. May the best man win! 

Finally, globally celebrated soprano Sondra Radvanovsky has been nominated for the Readers' Choice Award. Ms. Radvanovsky will be the inaugural Festival Artist at Opera Philadelphia's first season-opening festival, O17, this September 14-25. She'll perform in recital Sunday, September 17 and host a Master Class with Opera Philadelphia's Emerging Artists Monday, September 18.

Congratulations to all of this year's nominees!

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 by: Allen Freedman and Judith Brick Freedman; Chris Ahearn and Marla Mayer.

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