Opera Scotland

Breaking the Waves 2019Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Breaking the Waves

The opera programme for the 2019 Edinburgh International Festival included two fully-staged productions. The Komische Opera, Berlin, last here in 2015, brought a staging by director Barrie Kosky of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin.  Scottish Opera's contribution is the European premiere of the noted American compoer Missy Mazzoli's interpretation of Breaking the Waves, a bleak view of life in the Scottish Highlands, as depicted in the 1996 film by Lars von Trier.

The series of notable concert performances featured Götterdämmerung, bringing to a climax the Festival's four-year cycle of Wagner's Ring. A second Berlin company, the Deutsche Oper, led by its Scottish conductor, Donald Runnicles, brought Puccini's rare early Manon Lescaut featuring Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role. Iestyn Davies led the cast in a performance of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice.

There was a rare and wonderful Elgar oratorio, the Kingdom, with the Edinburgh Festival Chorus joined by Martyn Brabbins and the Hallé.  Even more unusual was the celebration of Leonard Bernstein's centenary - a concert presentation by Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra of his great musical West Side Siory. In addition, the opening concert brought the Los Angeles Philharmonic and their charismatic conductor Gustavo Dudamel in Mahler's titanic 'Resurrection' Symphony. And the Orchestre de Paris brought Britten's War Requiem.

The European premiere of Mazzoli's opera made for an effective music drama, generally well received by an attentive audience, whose metropolitan prejudice at life being generally 'grim up north' will have been confirmed. It is a variation on the familiar idea that small-town Scottish society is unpleasantly intolerant of behaviour that is in any way unconventional. Set in the 1970s, with the benefits of North Sea Oil becoming evident, in fundamentals it is a timeless tale.

Although the pit band is described as the 'Soloists from the Orchestra of Scottish Opera', implying just a handful of musicians, Breaking the Waves is attractively scored for a chamber orchestra of 26 players - 16 strings, seven wind and four others, including electric guitar and synthesizer. There is a male chorus of a dozen.


Further performances of this novelty were taken in March 2020 to the Adelaide Festival, forming Scottish Opera's first visit to the Southern Hemisphere.


Scottish Opera's 2019/20 Season

The season opened at the Edinburgh International Festival with the European premiere of Breaking the Waves by Missy Mazzoli. The autumn performances got under way with a visit to the Lammermuir Festival on 20 September with a single performance in concert of an unusual double bill - Mascagni's Zanetto and Wolf-Ferrari's Susanna's Secret. The Glasgow season opens with a welcome revival of Tosca. There is a Sunday afternoon concert of Iris, another rare work by Mascagni. In the New Year there are new productions of Nixon in China by John Adams as well as Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream. and Sullivan's Gondoliers. Further concerts include a pairing of Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana with Leoncavallo's Zingari. There are also concert performances of a late Sullivan piece, Utopia, Limited.  , as well as the usual Opera Highlights tour of the Highlands and Islands.

Performance DatesBreaking the Waves 2019

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

21 Aug, 19.15 23 Aug, 19.15 24 Aug, 19.15

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