Created with Sketch. Artboard Created with Sketch. Created with Sketch. Fill 1 Created with Sketch.
Breaking The Waves Photo: James Glossop

Breaking the Waves

Opera Ventures and Scottish Opera

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.

European Premiere
Contains strong language, violence, adult themes and partial nudity
Performed in English with supertitles
Audio Described performance
23 Aug 7.15pm
Touch Tour
23 Aug 6pm

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:

Scottish Opera
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Missy Mazzoli
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Royce Vavrek
Twitter | Instagram

Tom Morris

Sydney Mancasola 
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Duncan Rock
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

21-24 August 2019

This event was part of a previous International Festival and is therefore unavailable to book or watch. The 2021 programme will be announced in June.

★★★★★ operatic gold

The Scotsman

★★★★ extraordinarily gutsy and spine-tingling

The Times

★★★★ Mazzoli’s music gets under the skin of the claustrophobic island community

Bach Track

With thanks to our supporters

Supported by

Léan Scully EIF Fund

With additional support from

Susie Thomson