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LA Opera in Collaboration With Opera Philadelphia Presents Digital Premiere of Missy Mazzoli's BREAKING THE WAVES


The opera is an adaption of Lars von Trier's 1996 film, in which a devout young woman deciphers the meaning of fidelity, facing the condemnation of her church.

LA Opera in Collaboration With Opera Philadelphia Presents Digital Premiere of Missy Mazzoli's BREAKING THE WAVES

LA Opera will co-present an online stream of Breaking the Waves, an opera by composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek that was previously scheduled to open on the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion stage this month. The opera will begin streaming on March 12, 2021, in collaboration with Opera Philadelphia.

The opera is a faithful adaption of Lars von Trier's extraordinary 1996 film, in which a devout young woman deciphers the meaning of fidelity, facing the condemnation of her church as she puts herself through a series of dangerous sexual encounters. With its intense subject matter, violence, language and nudity, Breaking the Waves is recommended for mature audiences only.

Breaking the Waves will be available free of charge through the LA Opera On Now platform of digital performances, first exclusively to LA Opera subscribers from March 12 through 18, and then to the general public from March 19 through April 12. The stream will also be available to subscribers of the Opera Philadelphia Channel.

Breaking the Waves was filmed during its world premiere production at Opera Philadelphia in 2016. For the 2021 stream, director James Darrah, who staged that production, presents a remastered release of that recording, featuring color correction by cinematographer and colorist Michael Thomas, remastered sound from George Blood Audio, and a new edit from Active Image Media.

"It was heartbreaking to lose the opportunity to produce the estimable Missy Mazzoli's Breaking the Waves on our stage this year, but I'm delighted that our partnership with Opera Philadelphia will enable our audiences to experience this extraordinary piece in its celebrated world premiere production," said Christopher Koelsch, LA Opera's Sebastian Paul and Marybelle Musco President and CEO. "As we look forward to the reopening of our theater-with the safety of our audiences, artists and staff as our greatest priority-our fundamental commitment to the operas of our own time continues undaunted, as does our mission to connect our audiences with deeply meaningful opera experiences, even while our stage remains temporarily dark."

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About the Opera

Commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and Beth Morrison Projects, the opera is set in a remote Scottish village, where Bess, a devout member of a strict Calvinist church, marries Jan, a handsome foreigner working on an offshore oil rig. After a near-fatal accident leaves Jan paralyzed, Bess's marital vows are put to the test when he urges her to seek other lovers and then tell him of her sexual activities. He insists that her stories will keep him alive. Bess's increasing selflessness leads to a finale of divine grace, but at great cost.

Named Best New Opera by the Music Critics Association of North America in 2017, Breaking the Waves was Missy Mazzoli's first large-scale opera. "I felt that Bess's crushing vulnerability, steadfast faith and shocking bravery could manifest in a refreshing and provocative new character on the operatic stage," she has said. "In creating music for Bess and her world I saw an opportunity to create a new kind of heroine, and a new kind of opera that presents complex characters in an intricate and unblinking light."

Since its Philadelphia premiere, the opera has been produced by Scottish Opera and Australia's Adelaide Festival, with additional performances planned.

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