Trilling for von Trier

The opera "Breaking the Waves" is based on the film by Lars von Trier.

The opera “Breaking the Waves” is based on the film by Lars von Trier.

Composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek have created a stage opera from the 1996 Lars von Trier film Breaking the Waves. The plot, about a woman whose sexual awakening is interrupted by her new husband’s sudden paralysis, is full of enough melodramatic twists and turns to earn opera cred.

The New York Times praises the effort, which bowed in Philadelphia, lauding soprano Kiera Duffy’s performance as Bess as “fearless” and “focused.” Billed as a tale of “sacrificial love,” Bess capitulates to her husband’s demand that she copulate with other men, earning herself a scarlet letter in their small Scottish town. Baritone John Moore plays Bess’ husband Jan.

The project was written for an orchestra of only 15 pieces. It was co-commissioned by the Opera Philadelphia and Beth Morrison Projects, and premiered at the Kimmel Center. reviewed it quite enthusiastically.

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