Bess (soprano Kiera Duffy) during a performance of Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek’s operatic adaptation of Lars von Trier's “Breaking the Waves.”
Photo courtesy of Prototype experimental opera festival
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Lars von Trier's bleak, erotic 1996 film "Breaking the Waves" has become a modern film classic partly because it gives viewers wide freedom to interpret the plot.A new operatic adaptation of the Danish director's work wrestles with the same questions, exploring them with music.Composer Missy Mazzoli says she hesitated to create the work when librettist Royce Vavrek first proposed it.Roger Ebert, the late film critic who ranked "Breaking the Waves" among the top-10 films of the 1990s, concluded that Jan's reasons ultimately don't matter because Bess believes she needs to oblige his requests.While her opera preserves the ambiguity, Mazzoli firmly believes Jan's love is pure. The film director didn't see the opera in the U.S., but Mazzoli said that talks are underway for further productions worldwide.
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