Skirball Center for the Performing Arts - New York University

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In conjunction with the 2017 PROTOTYPE Festival, NYU Skirball Center presents the N.Y. premiere chamber opera Breaking the Waves by composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek. Set in the Scottish Highlands in the early 1970s, Breaking the Waves tells the story of Bess McNeill, a religious young woman with a deep love for her husband Jan, a handsome oil rig worker. When Jan becomes paralyzed in an off-shore accident, Bess’s marital vows are put to the test as he encourages her to seek other lovers and return to his bedside to tell him of her sexual activities. He insists that the stories will feel like they are making love together and keep him alive. Bess’s increasing selflessness leads to a finale of divine grace, but at great cost.

This production includes explicit language, nudity, and sexual content, some of a violent nature. Recommended for mature audiences only.

"If opera is the art of emotional extremity, few subjects are as operatic as 'Breaking the Waves"— The New York Times

PROTOTYPE is the premier festival of opera-theatre and music-theatre by pioneering contemporary artists from New York City and around the world. PROTOTYPE, founded in 2014, has produced and presented 91 performances, shared the work of more than 275 local, national, and international artists, exposed visionary work to more than 9,000 people, and filled 19 stages across multiple boroughs of New York City. It has unleashed a powerful wave of opera-theatre and music-theatre from a new generation of classical and post-classical composers and librettists.


Beyond the Stage


january 7 


Post-Show Discussion and Q&A

Join us for a post-show discussion and Q&A with composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek, and moderated by Beth Morrison, Creative Producer of Beth Morrison Projects.