November 30, 2016 - New York, NY

NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts Prototype: Opera/Theatre/Now and Trinity Church Wall Street  Present the New York Premiere of  Breaking the Waves Composed by Missy Mazzoli  Libretto by Royce Vavrek Directed by James Darrah Starring soprano Kiera Duffy and baritone John Moore Based on the 1996 Academy Award-nominated film by Lars von Trier   January 6 – 9, 2017

“It is not easy to find new operas that command attention, tell their story lucidly and create a powerful, permeating mood. Dark and daring, Breaking the Waves does all this with sensitivity and style.” —The New York Times

“Among the best twenty-first-century American operas.” —Opera News

Breaking the Waves, a new chamber opera by Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek, will have its New York premiere at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, from January 6 – 9, 2017, directed by James Darrah. Breaking the Waves will be co-presented by NYU Skirball Center, Prototype: Opera/Theatre/Now and Trinity Church Wall Street.


Breaking the Waves, based on Lars von Trier’s radical film of the same name, follows a harrowing tale of unconditional love and the ultimate sacrifice. It tells the story of Bess, a religious young woman deeply in love with her husband Jan. Bess’s marital vows are tested when Jan is paralyzed in an offshore oil rig accident. As this psychological drama about sacrificial love unfolds, Bess’s unrelenting selflessness escalates towards a devastating finale. The chamber opera stars soprano Kiera Duffy and baritone John Moore.


The presentation will be enhanced by a post-show discussion and Q&A with composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek, moderated by Beth Morrison, Creative Producer of Beth Morrison Projects, on January 7, 2017.  There will also be an Open Rehearsal for NYU Steinhardt students on January 5, 2017.



James Darrah (Director)’s recent projects include a return to an annual residency with Opera Omaha, where he launched a production of Handel’s Semele; his European directorial debut with Teatro Nacional de São Carlos in Lisbon, for new production of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride; and an installment of San Francisco Symphony’s SOUNDBOX series. In 2018, Darrah will assume the role of artistic director for a new festival and residency with Opera Omaha, and will direct the world premiere of Missy Mazzoli’s Proving Up.


American soprano Kiera Duffy (Bess) is recognized for both her gleaming high soprano and insightful musicianship in repertoire that encompasses Handel, Bach, and Mozart to the modern sounds of Berg, Glass, and Zorn. In addition to her active performing career, Ms. Duffy is Associate Professor and Head of the Undergraduate Voice Studio at the University of Notre Dame.


Missy Mazzoli (Composer) is a key figure on the contemporary music scene. Her music has been performed all over the world by the Kronos Quartet, eighth blackbird, pianist Emanuel Ax, the Detroit Symphony, the LA Philharmonic, the Minnesota Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, JACK Quartet, Opera Philadelphia, New York City Opera, cellist Maya Beiser, violinist Jennifer Koh, pianist Kathleen Supové, Dublin’s Crash Ensemble, the Sydney Symphony and many others. She is currently Composer-in-Residence with Opera Philadelphia, Gotham Chamber Opera and Music Theatre-Group. Missy was a visiting professor of music at New York University in 2013.


John Moore (Jan), a frequent performer in both Europe and the United States, is garnering praise for his energetic performances and burnished baritone in both operatic and concert repertoire. This season, he can be seen at the Metropolitan Opera as Moralès in Carmen, Seattle Opera as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, and to the Hyogo Performing Arts Center as Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro. In concert, he will be performing with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.


 Royce Vavrek (librettist) is an Alberta-born, Brooklyn-based librettist.  He has collaborated with David T. Little on Dog Days; Am I Born; Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera; archaeology; Last Nightfall and JFK. He has collaborated Ricky Ian Gordon on 27; with composer Missy Mazzoli on Song from the Uproar and Breaking the Waves; and with Paola Prestini on The Hubble Cantata. Other recent and upcoming projects include Strip Mall with Matt Marks, Stoned Prince with Hannah Lash, Midwestern Gothic with Josh Schmidt, O Columbia with Gregory Spears, Knoxville: Summer of 2015 with Ellen Reid and The Wild Beast of the Bungalow with Rachel Peters. Royce is co-artistic director of The Coterie, an opera-theater company founded with Lauren Worsham.



PROTOTYPE: Opera/Theatre/Now launched in January 2013, unleashing a powerful wave of opera- and music-theatre from a new generation of composers and librettists. The fifth annual Prototype: Opera/Theatre/Now will run from January 5-15, 2017, presenting an explosion of provocative and pioneering opera- and music-theatre, curated by co-founding producers, Kristin Marting (of HERE), Beth Morrison (of Beth Morrison Projects) and Kim Whitener (of HERE). Across its first four seasons, PROTOTYPE produced and presented a total of 130 performances of 23 presentations, and shared the work of more than 400 local, national, and international artists.



NYU Skirball is the premier venue for the presentation of cultural and performing arts events for New York University and lower Manhattan. NYU Skirball’s mission is to showcase and support diverse and eclectic talent from around the world, while cultivating audiences for live performance through deeper engagement opportunities. For more information visit:



Breaking the Waves will run for three performances: Friday, January 6, Saturday, January 7 and Monday, January 9 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $30- $75 and may be purchased online at or in person at the NYU Skirball Center Box Office: Tuesday-Saturday, 12:00–6:00 P.M.  NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts is located at 566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square, New York, New York 10012.


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January 6, 7, & 9 at 7:30pm

Link to Photos:


Composer: Missy Mazzoli
Librettist: Royce Vavrek
Based on the film by Lars Von Trier

Run time: 150 minutes

Bess McNeill: Kiera Duffy
Jan Nyman: John Moore
Bess’s Mother: Teddi Hanslowe
Dodo McNeill: Eve Gigliotti
Terry: Matthew Curran
Dr. Richardson: Dominic Armstrong
Church Councilman and Elder: Marcus DeLoach



NOVUS NY and the Choir of Trinity Church Wall Street
Director: James Darrah
Conductor: Julian Wachner
Scenic Designer: Adam Rigg
Lighting Designer: Pablo Santiago
Projection Designer: Adam Larsen
Costume Designer: Chrisi Karvonides

An Opera Philadelphia production, Breaking the Waves was co-commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and Beth Morrison Projects. Major support for Breaking the Waves has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and the William Penn Foundation. Additional support is provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. Additional commissioning support by Allen Freedman and Judith Brick Freedman and Linda and Stuart Nelson.



For NYU Skirball:

Helene Davis,


For Prototype:

Sarah Baird Knight,