The European premiere of a new opera from Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek adapted from Lars von Trier’s controversial film.
Breaking the Waves is a wrenching moral drama about a woman’s twisted bargain with God. Based on Lars von Trier’s controversial film, US composer Missy Mazzoli’s opera won the 2017 Best New Opera Award at the Music Critics Association of North America and was shortlisted the same year for an International Opera Award.
In a strict Calvinist community on the Scottish coast, Bess McNeill marries the man she loves: Norwegian rig worker Jan Nyman. Bess’s prayers for his return from working off-shore are cruelly answered when he is incapacitated in a horrific accident. Frail and vulnerable, Jan encourages his wife to seek other lovers and recount these liaisons to him. He insists these stories feel like they are making love together and keep him alive. Encouraged, Bess seeks a series of increasingly radical sexual encounters, putting herself in extreme danger.
Missy Mazzoli’s multi-layered, melodic music conjures a dark, luscious soundscape, with shades of Britten and Janáček. Bristol Old Vic’s Artistic Director Tom Morris, winner of a Tony Award for War Horse and director of ENO’s acclaimed The Death of Klinghoffer, directs a stunning cast including American soprano Sydney Mancasola, Edinburgh-born baritone Duncan Rock and Irish-Canadian mezzo soprano Wallis Giunta, winner of the 2018 International Opera Awards’ Young Singer of the Year Award. Scottish Opera Music Director Stuart Stratford conducts.
An opera in three acts by Missy Mazzoli
Libretto by Royce Vavrek
Based on the film by Lars von Trier
Sydney Mancasola Bess McNeill
Duncan Rock Jan Nyman
Wallis Giunta Dodo McNeill
Susan Bullock Mother
Elgan Llŷr Thomas Dr Richardson
Byron Jackson Terry
Freddie Tong Councilman
Frank Church Sadistic Sailor
David Lynn Young Sailor
Soloists of The Orchestra of Scottish Opera
Chorus of Breaking the Waves
Stuart Stratford Conductor
Tom Morris Director
Soutra Gilmour Designer
Richard Howell Lighting Designer
Will Duke Projection Designer
Jon Nicholls Sound Designer
Sara Brodie Associate Director & Movement
A new co-production by Opera Ventures, Scottish Opera, Houston Grand Opera and Opéra Comique Paris, in association with Bristol Old Vic. Co-presented with Edinburgh International Festival. This production has been made possible with support from Howard and Sarah Solomon Foundation, Denise Coates Foundation, Karl Sydow and a syndicate of donors.
More information about some of the artists: