Opera Scotland

Breaking the Waves


Missy Mazzoli


Royce Vavrek


Film Breaking the Waves (1996) directed by Lars von Trier.



First Performance: tbc.

First Performance in UK:  Edinburgh (King's Theatre), 21 August 2019.



Lars von Trier's film was controversial as well as highly praised. It gives a rather bleak, even brutal,  impression of life in the remote Scottish highlands.


Principal characters

Bess McNeill (soprano)

Jan Nyman, her husband (baritone)

Dodo McNeill, her sister (mezzo-soprano)

Mother (soprano)

Dr Richardson (tenor)



In a strict Calvinist community on the Scottish coast, Bess McNeill marries the man she loves, a Norwegian rig worker, Jan Nyman. Bess's prayers for his return from working off-shore are cruelly answered when he is incapacitated in an accident.

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