LARS VON TRIER
MIKE COHEN & CORI ELLISON
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.
Co-commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and Beth Morrison Projects. World premiere production at Opera Philadelphia. New York City premiere at PROTOTYPE Festival 2017. Major support provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and the William Penn Foundation. Additional support is provided by the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and OPERA America Opera Grants for Female Composers program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Additional commissioning support from Judy & Allen Freedman and Linda & Stuart Nelson.
“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.”
“Savage, heartbreaking, and thoroughly original…Bess, as conceived by Ms. Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek, and sung by the extraordinary Kiera Duffy, is an evolving, unforgettable character.”
“Mazzoli’s music excels both at creating atmosphere and underscoring emotions.”
“Breaking the Waves stands among the best twenty-first-century American operas yet produced.”
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