Opera Premieres: Missy Mazzoli and Bright Sheng

Opera Premieres: Missy Mazzoli and Bright Sheng
© Opera Philadelphia, San Francisco Opera
September saw the well-received premieres of operas by Missy Mazzoli and Bright Sheng. We're proud to share reviews of these new works ranging from Mazzoli's intense chamber opera to Sheng's East/West grand opera.

Missy Mazzoli: Breaking the Waves
Libretto by Royce Vavrek
Based on the film by Lars von Trier (Zentropa Entertainments3)

Premiere: September 22, 2016
Cast featuring: Kiera Duffy, Jonathan Moore, Eve Gigliotti; James Darrah, stage director; Steven Osgood, conductor; Opera Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Breaking the Waves comes to New York City in January 2017 at the Prototype Festival.

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

'Breaking the Waves is exhilarating.'
David Patrick Stearns, The Inquirer

'…savage, heartbreaking and thoroughly original…'
Heidi Waleson, The Wall Street Journal

'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

'Mazzoli has produced an opera as potent as its model…'
George Loomis, Musical America

'Missy Mazzoli…has created the most startling and moving new American opera in memory…'
Albert Innaurato, Parterre Box

Bright Sheng: Dream of the Red Chamber
Libretto by David Henry Hwang and the composer
Based on the book by Cao Xueqin

Premiere: September 10, 2016
Cast featuring: Yijie Shi, Pureum Jo, Irene Roberts; Stan Lai, director; George Manahan, conductor; San Francisco Opera, San Francisco, CA

'The exquisite, soaring vocal writing reveals Sheng as a melodist of uncommon distinction.'
Allan Ulrich, Financial Times

'…the score snaps into focus in a series of tautly constructed scenes that reveal the canniness of Sheng's compositional strategy — in particular, his skill in crafting an operatic language that is a hybrid of Chinese and Western traditions.'
Joshua Kosman, SF Gate

'Sheng's score evokes the Chinese setting in swaths of orchestral sound: percussive outbursts, chattering woodwinds and string glissandi.'
Georgia Rowe, The Mercury News

'Sheng has a terrific feel for orchestration. He uses brass (particularly trombones), winds and percussion (Western and Chinese) in original and highly imaginative ways. Pitches bend in ways that sound almost acrobatically impossible. Chinese folk tunes get transformed into rapturously expressive new music, gorgeously colored.'
Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times

'Sheng’s score for Dream of the Red Chamber drips with musical immoderation and deploys about double the high notes of most contemporary operas. The composer fully employs every instrument in the orchestra, understanding the dramatic punch each possesses. For a work so steeped in Chinese custom, he has chosen a broad array, stretching from violin and bassoon to gong and guqin (the stringed instrument related to the zither). Red Chamber is rooted firmly in classical European romance, though enhanced with well-considered ventures into Asian musical motifs.'
Ray Mark Rinaldi, Opera News


For specific inquiries about these operas, please contact Peggy Monastra or call 212-254-2100.

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