Breaking the waves

Por Ana María Díaz de Lewine, www.ruimonte.us

27 de Septiembre 2016, 7.30pm, Perelman Theater, Filadelfia.

Missy Mazzoli, música; Royce Vavrek, libreto; Stephen Osgood, director musical; James Darrah, director; Adam Rigg, director escénico; Elizabeth Braden, directora de coro; Chrisi Karvonides, diseño de vestuario; Adam Larsen, proyecciones; Pablo Santiago, diseño de luces.

Kiera Duffy, Bess McNeill; Eve Gigliotti, Dodo McNeill; Marcus DeLoach, minister; Zachary James, Terry; John Moore, Jan Nyman; John Miles, Sadistic Sailor; David Portillo, Dr. Richardson; Patricia Schuman, Madre de Betsy; George Ross Somervill, The Runt; Daniel Taylor, The Stone Thrower.

 

Basado en la película del mismo título del director Lars von Trier, Breaking the Waves narra la extraña relación de dependencia de la joven Bess y su marido Jan. Tras un desgraciado accidente con un gaseoducto, justamente después de su reciente matrimonio, Jan queda inmovilizado en una camilla. Jan le exige a Bess que mantenga múltiples relaciones sexuales con desconocidos y se lo describa con todo detalle, para así él poder volver a sentir el amor. Bess que, al principio se niega, acaba cediendo a sus ruegos, para finalmente ser expulsada de su círculo familiar y social. El médico trata de ayudar a Bess tanto en su primera etapa de matrimonio donde sufre una depresión, como después cuando comprueba la compleja relación de dependencia entre Bess y Jan. Bess termina su vida muriendo violentamente. Se nos muestra la hipocresía de la iglesia y de los hombres, a través de la acusación de Dodo, la cuñada de Bess.

A destacar la excelente actuación escénica y musical de Kiera Duffy en el papel de Bess, que lleva a cabo escenas absolutamente desinhibidas, manteniendo siempre el carácter variable en la interpretación, que corresponde con el desequilibrio de la propia Bess y todo ello, con una admirable valentía en el escenario. Bravísima Kiera Duffy. Destaca Eve Gigliotti como Dodo con una preciosa y magnífica voz, redonda y poderosa.

El resto del reparto y su actuación es impecable, fabuloso.

Interesante la música de Missy Mazzoli, aunque resultaba repetitiva con un uso excesivo de las campanas, y los sonidos percutidos, en forma de acordes o golpes sonoros armónicos. Todo ello producía una sensación de incomodidad que unido al desenlace trágico de la historia, podemos decir que funcionaba como efecto de sensación angustiosa. ¿Podríamos considerar que estamos ante la historia de una Traviata del siglo XXI? Tal vez se trata de eso…

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BREAKING THE WAVES

By Ana María Díaz de Lewine, www.ruimonte.us

Translation by Alan Lewine, www.owlsong.com

September 27, 2016, 7.30pm, Perelman Theater, Philadelphia.

Missy Mazzoli, composer; Royce Vavrek, libretto; Stephen Osgood, conductor; James Darrah, director; Adam Rigg, scenic design; Elizabeth Braden, chorus master; Chrisi Karvonides, costume design; Adam Larsen, projections; Pablo Santiago, lighting.

Kiera Duffy, Bess McNeill; Eve Gigliotti, Dodo McNeill; Marcus DeLoach, minister; Zachary James, Terry; John Moore, Jan Nyman; John Miles, Sadistic Sailor; David Portillo, Dr. Richardson; Patricia Schuman, Madre de Betsy; George Ross Somervill, The Runt; Daniel Taylor, The Stone Thrower. Chorus of church elders, oil rig workers, voice of god and townspeople.

 

Based on the 1990s movie of the same title by Lars von Trier, in September the Philadelphia Opera presented the world premiere of Breaking the Waves set on Scotland’s Isle of Skye in the early 1970s, tells the story of the dependent relationship between young Bess and her husband Jan. Shortly after their marriage, Jan was disabled and left a bed-ridden quadriplegic from a horrible accident on the oil rig where he worked. To maintain his sense of life and sexuality, Jan asks the innocent Bess to have multiple sexual relationships with strangers and then return to describe her sexual experiences to him in detail later. At first, Beth said no, but then gave in to his pleas and became known as the slut of the community until eventually she suffered social exile from her family and community. A doctor tries to help Beth, explaining that in the early stages of a marriage it is common to suffer depression. Beth soon dies after a violent rape. We see the hypocrisies of the church and the townspeople, who not only persecuted Beth, but also Dodo, her supporter and sister-in-law.

 

Kiera Duffy enters an excellent performance as Bess, absolutely uninhibited (and often totally naked) in her scenes. She stays always in character presenting Bess’s growth and development, bravely reflecting Bess’s emotional instability and descent into prurient and careless madness from the “proper” young Bess in love and her first sexual awakening in the early scenes. “Bravissima” Kiera Duffy!

 

Likewise, we must call “brava” to Eve Gigliotti as Dodo, Bess’s only friend, sister-in-law and supporter, whose voice was magnificently well-rounded and strong.

 

The rest of the cast was also impeccable and strong in their performance.

 

We enjoyed the interesting music of composer Missy Mazzoli, a rising star of the American contemporary music scene. Although the music was at times somewhat repetitive with an excessive use of bells and small percussive effects, the result demonstrated a finely developed sense of harmony and orchestration. She might have benefitted from a larger orchestral ensemble with some instruments doubled, but the 15 piece chamber orchestra, including some synthesizer and electric guitar, performed very well.

 

Overall the production communicated an intense feeling of discomfort and anxiety consistent with its engagement of the tragic story portrayed. This seemed like a 21st century update of La Traviata.   “Bravissimo” to Opera Philadelphia for its courage and foresight in commissioning and programming forward-looking new works to bring opera to our era.
* Photo 1 Bess (Soprano Kiera Duffy) and Jam (baritone John Moore). Photo by Nicolas Korkos for Opera Philadelphia.

* Photo 2. Courtesy Dominic M. Mercier.

Ana María Ruimonte
Acerca del Autor
Spanish Mezzo-Soprano, classical singer especialized in Lyric Theater, graduated at the Escuela Superior de Canto in Madrid. She belongs to the duo "Soprano Meets Contrabass" which includes classical-jazz-flamenco and music of the world. She is author of the bilingual theatrical performance "El Carro del Amor" which includes several artistic areas as paint, poetry, theater, music and geography, in the 17th Spain.

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