We were drawn into the fragile psyche of Bess as she was married, experiencing her first sexual happiness, and bereft with her husband’s departure. James Darrah’s staging makes this standoff memorably stark. Adhering closely to the original, the opera is long, harrowing and unblinking, yet kept buoyant and absorbing by Mazzoli’s fluid score. The ocean waves and oil rigs, as well as more abstract images, helped the audience to use their imaginations. James Darrah's stage direction, Adam Rigg's set design, and Adam Larsen's projections evoked the barrenness of both the Scottish setting and the stark religion held to be of maximum importance by the villagers. Breaking the Waves, Missy Mazzoli's new opera premiered by Opera Philadelphia, is a work of sheer emotional power that combines strong music, effective staging and, above all, committed performances.Based on a film by Lars von Trier, Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek succeeded in creating a gripping drama in an insular Calvinist community in Scotland whose religious and … Illustrating every facet of her character's complicated and not-always-stable psyche, Duffy held watchers firmly in her hand while she convinced them of her character's sincerity. This Breaking the Waves is a very fine reworking of the harrowing, non-musical original and it’s arguable that Mazzoli’s insightful, sometimes contrarian score actually makes it even more toughly dramatic. It presented the audience with a tapestry full of emotional and musical colors. Our privacy policy was last updated on Friday 31 January 2020. Flawed masterpiece: Missy Mazzoli's Breaking the Waves opens in Philadelphia, https://bachtrack.com/review-mazzoli-breaking-waves-opera-philadelphia-september-2016, https://bachtrack.com/22/270/list-published/16328, https://bachtrack.com/files/251-ako_imamura.jpeg, Opera Philadelphia gives a masterful Verdi Requiem, Forsythe a truly overwhelming Semele at Festival O, To add a comment, please sign in or register. This product includes GeoLite2 data created by MaxMind, available from, https://bachtrack.com/files/46266-breaking-waves-john-moore-kiera-duffy-opera-philadelphia-dominic-m-mercier-resized.jpg, https://bachtrack.com/files/46267-breaking-waves-patricia-schuman-opera-philadelphia-dominic-m-mercier-resized.jpg, https://bachtrack.com/files/46265-breaking-waves-kiera-duffy-opera-philadelphia-dominic-m-mercier-resized.jpg, 2016-Sep-22, Kimmel Center, Perelman Theater: Breaking the Waves, https://bachtrack.com/opera-event/breaking-the-waves-opera-philadelphia-kimmel-center-perelman-theater-22-september-2016/256013, https://schema.org/OfflineEventAttendanceMode, https://bachtrack.com/files/109444-opera-philadelphia-logo.jpg, https://bachtrack.com/themes/bachtrack2013/mastheadlogo.png. The second and third acts were less effective as they dragged a little, and the libretto became predictable and conventional. On May 29, 2020, Opera Philadelphia presented the digital premiere of Royce Vavrek and Missy Mazzoli's Breaking the Waves, a story based on the 1996 international film of the same name directed by Lars von Trier. From her first quiet appearance on stage before the music began, Duffy embodied a trouble young woman who falls in love with, and marries, an outsider: a Norwegian oil rig worker Jan, whose near-fatal accident sets in motion a tragic disintegration of Bess’ physical and spiritual being. The chorus sang in striking unison and yet their strong individual voices came through in the intimate Perelman Theater. Based on a film by Lars von Trier, Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek succeeded in creating a gripping drama in an insular Calvinist community in Scotland whose religious and psychological oppression results in a tragic life and death of the heroine, Bess. Its doomed protagonist endures trials at least the equal of Tosca’s or Madama Butterfly’s. The film is a febrile wonder, marked by a burning, wide-eyed performance by Emily Watson as Bess, a modern Joan of Arc who comes to believe her husband’s demands as God’s will. In the eyes of the Calvinist church elders of Skye, where the story is set, Mazzoli could well be considered “froward” – not a misprint but from old Norse and meaning “a person difficult to … “Breaking the Waves” is emotionally and spiritually challenging, hammering at conventional morality with the belief that God not only sees all, but understands a great deal more than we give Him credit for. (This was also the achievement of the singers’ crisp diction and the subtle balances overseen by the conductor Steven Osgood.). King’s theatre, Edinburgh. Steve Osgood led a small orchestra of excellent musicians with his characteristic vigor and precision. Breaking the Waves review – Von Trier's bleak drama feels lost in translation. The final scene with Jan, Dodo and Terry listening to distant and non-existent bells, as well as Jan’s final aria for Bess, while eliciting some tears from the audience, seemed an anticlimactic ending to the tragedy that unfolded. While the second half of the opera could use some editing in length, and the opera’s ending unfortunately managed to sugarcoat the savagery of the story, this is an important work that leaves the audience both exhausted and contemplative. Harrowing, beautiful and strange in equal measure, the film tells the story of innocent, otherworldly Bess, a young woman living in a restrictive Presbyterian community on a remote Scottish island and her relationship with the outsider Jan, a worker on the oil rigs. The big test for Culture Recovery Fund winners: will they use it for change? September 29, 2016. in Music. Born in Japan, she trained as cultural anthropologist in the US before turning to finance. Dark and daring, “Breaking the Waves” does all this with sensitivity and style. Sweet-voiced Eve Gigliotti sang with a great deal of poignant expression as Bess's sister-in-law, Dodo McNeill. Mazzoli's music lived up to the hype her work has engendered: Breaking the Waves stands among the best twenty-first-century American operas yet produced. (A more radical operatic rethinking of the film could have been scored for solo soprano and chorus alone.). Tenor David Portillo as Dr Richardson brought his penetrating timbre to portray a sympathetic ally. https://www.operaphila.org/whats-on/digital-festival/, Sierra Madre Playhouse Relights Its Marquee On October 23, The Robey Theatre Company Presents An Evening Conversation With Sheryl Lee Ralph, Fountain Theatre's RAISE YOUR VOICE – VOTE! Writing for an orchestra of just 15 players, Ms. Mazzoli confidently creates a range of densities, from symphonic weightiness to agile sparseness. American composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek make a great team. Breaking the Waves was an unusual tale told with great clarity. In other words, they’re a dream for opera. Moore’s clear diction was exemplary even when he was singing softly on his back as he lay gravely injured. Available for everyone, funded by readers. Broadway Stars Want You to Make a Plan to Vote, Behind the Scenes of ONE ROYAL HOLIDAY With Osnes & Tveit, Quentin Garzón and More Perform "Feed Me (Git It)", Josh Gad Talks FROZEN Prequel ONCE UPON A SNOWMAN, Joel Harper-Jackson Announces Release of Debut Album, John Legend Performs 'Never Break' at the BBMAs. James Darrah stages Handel's sensual oratorio for Festival O, a feast of wonderful singing. If Mr. Vavrek’s libretto is talky and often stolid — “Your body is a map,” Bess sings, “each hair a mountain, each rib a loch” — the plot comes across and Ms. Mazzoli sets the language with passionate clarity. It is not easy to find new operas that command attention, tell their story lucidly and create a powerful, permeating mood. The world première of Breaking the Waves was a qualified success, with a powerful drama performed with commitment by strong cast and musicians. Musical lines alternating abstract and concrete worked to heighten the narrative. The combination of chamber ensemble, soloists from the Orchestra of Scottish Opera conducted by Stuart Stratford together with synthesiser and electric guitar felt too thin at times, too noisy at others. Bess’ tragedy did not deserve an easy absolution and redemption. The result was first staged in Philadelphia in 2016 and is now receiving its European premiere at the Edinburgh international festival. It tells the story of Bess, a simple woman of childlike naivete, who sacrifices herself to sexual brutality to save the life of the man she loves. Opera Philadelphia’s world premiere Breaking the Waves, based on the 1996 Lars von Trier film, opened to some acclaim, with at least one critic declaring it among the best 21st-century operas yet produced. His resonant, warm baritone was a perfect vehicle for the outsider who attracts a devout and sheltered young woman. Inspired by the Lars von Trier film Breaking the Waves they have created an amazing, confronting, yet mystical opera, telling the same story but with refreshingly new insights. Nervous fragments are scattered throughout like ripples and swells atop an ocean, for an overall orchestral texture that’s moody, yet with a clean neutrality that elegantly sets off the vocal lines that soar above it, rather than competing with them. : Scottish Opera at the Adelaide Festival. Watch a trailer for Breaking the Waves. The Church Elder told Bess that women were not heard there. She also proved to be a sympathetic actress. Click on the banner to find out more. 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