Opera Philadelphia

Mazzoli / Vavrek

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Breaking the Waves

World Premiere
Music by Missy Mazzoli
Libretto by Royce Vavrek
Based on the film by Lars von Trier (Zentropa Entertainments3)
Performed in English with English supertitles
Aurora Series for Chamber Opera

Sacrificial love

This World Premiere chamber opera by composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek is based on the 1996 Academy Award-nominated film by Lars von Trier. Set in the Scottish Highlands in the early 1970s, Breaking the Waves tells the story of Bess McNeill, a religious young woman with a deep love for her husband Jan, a handsome oil rig worker. When Jan becomes paralyzed in an off-shore accident, Bess’s marital vows are put to the test as he encourages her to seek other lovers and return to his bedside to tell him of her sexual activities. He insists that the stories will feel like they are making love together and keep him alive. Bess’s increasing selflessness leads to a finale of divine grace, but at great cost.

This production includes explicit language and sexual content.

HOW TO PURCHASE TICKETS:

MapPerelman Theater

Thu, Sep 22 7:30 p.m.
Sat, Sep 24 2:30 p.m.
Tue, Sep 27 7:30 p.m.
Thu, Sep 29 7:30 p.m.
Sat, Oct 1 8:00 p.m.

Approximately two hours and 35 minutes including one 20-minute intermission

Major support for Breaking the Waves has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and the William Penn Foundation.

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.

Co-commission with Beth Morrison Projects

Missy Mazzoli & Royce Vavrek

Composer & Librettist

Missy Mazzoli & Royce Vavrek

A fast-rising composer on the contemporary music scene, Missy Mazzoli’s talent draws audiences equally into concert halls and rock clubs. Her unique music reflects a trend among composers of her generation who combine styles, writing music for the omnivorous audiences of the 21st century. She inhabits a gorgeous and mysterious sound-world that melds indie-rock sensibilities with formal training from Louis Andriessen, Martijn Padding, Richard Ayers, and others. Practically speaking, she amasses music in layers not normally found together but in ways that create matchless vertical harmonies. Learn more about Missy

Royce Vavrek is an Alberta-born, Brooklyn-based librettist and lyricist known as “an exemplary creator of operatic prose” (The New York Times) and "the indie Hoffmanstahl" (The New Yorker). Learn more about Royce

Cast & Creative Team

Ravishing voices from promising talent

Steven Osgood
Steven Osgood *Conductor
James Darrah
James Darrah *Director
Kiera Duffy
Kiera Duffyas Bess McNeill
John Moore
John Moore *as Jan Nyman
Eve Gigliotti
Eve Gigliottias Dodo McNeill
David Portillo
David Portilloas Dr. Richardson
Patricia Schuman
Patricia Schumanas Bess's Mother
Zachary James
Zachary James *as Terry
Marcus DeLoach
Marcus DeLoachas Church Councilman
  • Adam Rigg * Set Design
  • Chrisi Karvonides * Costume Design
  • Pablo Santiago * Lighting Design
  • Adam Larsen * Projections Design
  • Elizabeth Braden Chorus Master
  • Emily May Sung * Assistant Chorus Master
  • Amanda Console Assistant Director
  • Becki Smith Stage Manager
  • Jen Shaw Assistant Stage Manager
  • Brandon Ehrenreich * Assistant Stage Manager
  • *Opera Philadelphia debut
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