Today, the Opera Philadelphia presents the world première performance of Missy Mazzoli's new opera, Breaking the Waves, with a libretto by Royce Vavrek.
It is the composer's second chamber opera, after Song from the Uproar : The Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt (New York, 2012). The libretto is based on the 1996 Academy Award-nominated film by Lars von Trier.
The Scottish Highlands in the early 1970s. Bess McNeill is 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. (reproduced from the Opera Philadelphia website)The cast includes soprano Kiera Duffy (Bess McNeill), baritone John Moore (Jan Nyman), mezzo Eve Gigliotti (Dodo McNeill), tenor David Portillo (Dr. Richardson) and bass Zachary James (Terry). Steven Osgood conducts the Chorus and Orchestra. James Darrah directs.
The required orchestra is the following :
- 1 flute (doubling piccolo), 1 oboe, 1 clarinet, 1 bassoon (doubling contrabassoon) ;
- 1 horn, 1 trombone ;
- percussion ;
- 1 piano (doubling synthesizer), 1 harp, 1 electric guitar ;
The opera is published by G. Schirmer Inc. The performance (at the Perelman Theater) should last about 2 hours and 30 minutes, including a 20 minute intermission.