an opera in three acts

by Missy Mazzoli
libretto by Royce Vavrek

based on the film by Lars von Trier

Breaking the Waves stands
"among the best twenty-first-century
American operas yet."
— David Shengold, Opera News

Breaking the Waves premiered September 22, 2016 at Opera Philadelphia and was instantly hailed by critics as a significant new work. Commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and Beth Morrison Projects, Breaking the Waves was shortlisted for the "Best World Premiere" Prize at the International Opera Awards, and won the "Best Opera of 2016" Award from the Music Critic's Association of North America.

Click HERE to listen to an audio stream from Opera Philadelphia.

For information about Breaking the Waves please contact Peggy Monastra at G. Schirmer:


Breaking the Waves is "savage, heartbreaking, and thoroughly original"

—Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal


"The most startling and moving new American opera in recent memory."

—Parterre Box

-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."

- Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times

  • Underwater footage is excerpted from the film Seasoned by AnA Collaborations

Breaking the Waves premiered with Opera Philadelphia in the Perelman Theatre in September, 2017and with Beth Morrison Projects at the Skirball Center, as part of the Prototype Festival in New York in January 2018.

The premiere production was directed by James Darrah and conducted by Steven Osgood, with lighting design by Pablo Santiago, projections by Adam Larsen, set design by Adam Rigg, and costumes by Chrisi Karvonides.  The New York premiere was conducted by Julian Wachner and featured performed from Novus New York and the Trinity Wall Street chorus.

Major support for Breaking the Waves has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, the William Penn Foundation, and the Wyncote Foundation at the recommendation of Daniel K. Meyer, M.D.

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; Chris Ahearn and Marla Mayer.