Opera Philadelphia Launches Free Breaking the Waves Audio Stream on March 2

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017: When Opera Philadelphia’s new adaptation of Lars von Trier’s searing Oscar-nominated film,Breaking the Waves made its world premiere in September 2016, the New York Times declared the opera “ambitious, accomplished, [and]dramatically direct,” and Opera Newssaid it “stands among the best 21st-century American operas yet produced.” It has since earned an International Opera Award nomination for Best World Premiere and made its New York debut with Beth Morrison Projects’ Prototype Festival to continued acclaim.

Now, starting on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 at 1 p.m., home audiences the world over can listen to this spellbinding production in its entirety at operaphila.org as the company unveils a free on-demand audio stream of the world premiere production that took the opera world by storm, capping off an online celebration in honor of Women’s History Month.


An Opera Philadelphia commission from the creative team of composer Missy Mazzoli, librettist Royce Vavrek, and directorJames Darrah, it was Breaking the Waves that launched the company’s fall 2016-2017 season. The premiere proved a sensation. The Wall Street Journal called it “savage, heartbreaking and thoroughly original,” and for Parterre,Breaking the Waves was, quite simply, “the most startling and moving new American opera in memory.”

Supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and produced by Opera Philadelphia with audio by George Blood L.P., the upcoming audio stream was captured on September 29 at the penultimate performance of the opera’s opening run, which starred soprano Kiera Duffy as Bess McNeill – in “an absolutely spectacular performance” (Opera News) – under the baton ofSteven Osgood. Like Von Trier’s groundbreaking film, the opera depicts a tragedy of conflicting ethical imperatives that ultimately serves as a meditation on the nature of goodness. The audio will be available for streaming on-demand at operaphila.org. The production includes explicit language, nudity, and sexual content, some of a violent nature. Recommended for mature audiences only. (See full credits below.)


The release of Breaking the Waves caps Opera Philadelphia’s Women’s History Month celebration devoted to shining a spotlight on women creating opera today. Throughout March, audiences will gain access to exclusive interviews, guest blog posts, and more onoperaphila.org and Opera Philadelphia’s social media channels. 

  •  March 8: A new interview with esteemed director Robin Guarino, who will lead War Stories during Opera Philadelphia’s festival, O17, next fall, explores her experience in the male-dominated field at operaphila.org.
  • March 13-17: Breaking the Waves composer Missy Mazzoli takes over the Opera Philadelphia Instagram and Twitter accounts throughout the week with a peek at the contemporary innovators and women in history that have influenced her operatic life.
  • March 22: Hannah Moscovitch, renowned playwright and the librettist of I Have No Stories to Tell You, making its Philadelphia Premiere next fall, reveals her path to success in a guest blog post for operaphila.org.
  • March 29: Just before the Breaking the Waves audio cast release, Pulitzer-Prize winning composer Jennifer Higdon and Opera Philadelphia Composer in Residence Rene Orth sit down with Opera Philadelphia’s own New Works Administrator Sarah Williams for a Facebook LIVE discussion about what it takes to be a contemporary composer.

“We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate this month with living history-making women such as Missy, Jennifer, Hannah, Rene, and Robin,” said Opera Philadelphia New Works Administrator Sarah Williams. “From an opera written by a woman for a complex leading female character in Breaking the Waves, to other creative visionaries in the field (that just so happen to also be women), we honor their work and process by hearing from each of them.”

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