Missy Mazzoli (born October 27, 1980 in Lansdale, Pennsylvania) is an American composer and pianist living in Brooklyn, New York, who has received critical acclaim for her chamber, orchestral and operatic work. Her first chamber opera Song from the Uproar, based on the life of Swiss explorer Isabelle Eberhardt and featuring a libretto by Royce Vavrek, premiered at New York City venue The Kitchen in March 2012. It was performed again by LA Opera in October 2015. She is the founder and keyboardist for Victoire, an electro-acoustic band dedicated to performing her music. From 2012-2015 she was composer-in-residence at the Opera Company of Philadelphia, in collaboration with Gotham Chamber Opera and Music-Theater Group. Her music is published by G. Schirmer. Mazzoli received a 2015 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award.
Mazzoli's degrees are from the Yale School of Music, the Royal Conservatory of the Hague and Boston University. Her teachers include David Lang, Louis Andriessen, Aaron Jay Kernis, Martin Bresnick, Martijn Padding, and John Harbison.
In 2006 Mazzoli taught composition in the Music Department of Yale University, and from 2007 to 2010 was Executive Director of the MATA Festival in New York City, an organization dedicated to promoting the work of young composers.
Concert works and recordings
Mazzoli's music has been performed by the Kronos Quartet, eighth blackbird, the Minnesota Orchestra, violinist Jennifer Koh, cellist Maya Beiser, NOW Ensemble, the American Composers Orchestra, the South Carolina Philharmonic, Dublin's Crash Ensemble, ETHEL and many others in venues including Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House. As of 2012 she is Composer-in-Residence with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, and in 2011/12 was Composer/Educator in residence with the Albany Symphony.
Mazzoli has released three full-length albums of her music to date: Cathedral City, written for her band Victoire (2010), Song from the Uproar, the original cast recording of her first opera (2012), and Vespers for a New Dark Age (2015), a work for her band Victoire in collaboration with percussionist Glenn Kotche (of Wilco) and vocalists Martha Cluver, Melissa Hughes and Virginia Kelsey. Vespers for a New Dark Age was commissioned by Carnegie Hall and premiered there in February 2014. All of Mazzoli's records were released on Brooklyn-based label New Amsterdam Records.
In 2018, Mazzoli will premiere her third opera with librettist Royce Vavrek, an adaptation of Karen Russell's short story of the same title. The work has been commissioned by Washington National Opera, Opera Omaha and Miller Theatre. The opera is being written for baritone John Moore and Grammy-nominated soprano Talise Trevigne.
Breaking the Waves
Mazzoli's opera Breaking the Waves, an adaptation of Lars von Trier's 1996 Cannes Grand Prix-winning film Breaking the Waves, with a libretto by Royce Vavrek, was commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and Beth Morrison Projects. The opera premiered in Philadelphia on September 22, 2016 garnering many positive reviews. Opera News wrote that "Breaking the Waves stands among the best 21st-century American operas yet produced." while Heidi Waleson, in her review for The Wall Street Journal wrote: "Mr. Vavrek's spare, eloquent libretto leaves ample space for Ms. Mazzoli's music to create a complex portrait of Bess and her stark environment. … Ms. Mazzoli's score deftly balances trenchant arias with a kaleidoscopic orchestration whose layers and colors suggest Messiaen, Britten and Janáček but is finally all her own." The opera was nominated for the 2017 International Opera Award for Best World Premiere, and won the inaugural Music Critics Association of North America Award for Best New Opera in 2017.
Song from the Uproar
Mazzoli's first opera, Song from the Uproar: The Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt, based on the life of Swiss explorer and writer Isabelle Eberhardt, premiered at New York venue The Kitchen in March 2012. The piece was created in collaboration with librettist Royce Vavrek, filmmaker Stephen Taylor and director Gia Forakis. The Wall Street Journal called this work "powerful and new" and The New York Times claimed that "in the electric surge of Ms. Mazzoli's score you felt the joy, risk, and limitless potential of free spirits unbound."
On November 13, 2012 the original cast recording of Song from the Uproar was released on New Amsterdam Records. In October 2015 LA Opera presented the second full production as part of their "Off Grand" series at REDCAT.
A 20-minute retelling of the story of Lot's wife for voice, cello and electronics, SALT was performed at the 2012 BAM Next Wave Festival in Brooklyn and at UNC Chapel Hill. Composed for cellist Maya Beiser and vocalist Helga Davis, SALT was directed by Robert Woodruff and includes text by Erin Cressida Wilson.
Mazzoli was described by the New York Times as "one of the more consistently inventive and surprising composers now working in New York", and by Time Out New York as "Brooklyn's post-millennial Mozart". On November 23, 2012 and March 28, 2015, Mazzoli was a guest on NPR's All Things Considered.
Mazzoli is the recipient of four ASCAP Young Composer Awards, a Fulbright Grant to the Netherlands, the Detroit Symphony's Elaine Lebenbom Award, and grants from the Jerome Foundation, American Music Center, and the Barlow Endowment.
After the LA premiere of her first opera, Song from the Uproar, Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times wrote that "Her wonderful score is seductive, meditative, spiritually elusive and subversive. With it, we can welcome a new natural for the art form."
Awards and nominations
|2017||Music Critics Association of North America Award||Best New Opera||Breaking the Waves||Won|
- "Mezzo-soprano Abigail Fischer overcomes all challenges in Song From the Uproar". latimes.com. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
- "Opera Company of Philadelphia, in Collaboration with Gotham Chamber Opera and Music-Theatre Group, Appoints Missy Mazzoli as Composer in Residence". Prweb.com. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
- "Missy Mazzoli". Schirmer.com. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
- "Composer Missy Mazzoli '06MM Joins Mannes Faculty," Yale School of Music: News — Students & Alumni, (online announcement), September 27, 2013 (retrieved February 2, 2015)
- "Victoire Cathedral". New Amsterdam Records. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
- "Mazzoli Uproar". New Amsterdam Records. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
- "Mazzoli Vespers". New Amsterdam Records. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
- "Glenn Kotche and Victoire". www.carnegiehall.org. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
- OPERA America is pleased to announce the selections for the 2014 New Works Sampler ," Archived 2015-09-30 at the Wayback Machine. operaconf on Tumblr (blog: operaconf
.tumblr .com), March 6, 2014 (retrieved February 2, 2015); original article was published by Opera America
- Shengold, David (October 2016). "Breaking the Waves". operanews.com. Retrieved June 26, 2017.
- Waleson, Heidi (2012-02-28). "Eric Owens | Songs From the Uproar: The Lives and Deaths of Isabell Eberhardt | Staying in Character | Opera Review". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
- Smith, Steve (2012-02-26). "Song From the Uproar at The Kitchen". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
- "Song From the Uproar". New Amsterdam Records. 2012-02-24. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
- Fonseca, Corinna Da (2012-10-18). "Maya Beiser in Elsewhere at BAM". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
- Smith, Steve (2009-07-17). "Music Review – A Concert All About Brooklyn at the Prospect Park Bandshell". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
- Giovetti, Olivia (2010-02-15). "Missy Mazzoli | Classical & Opera | reviews, guides, things to do, film". Timeout New York. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
- "Missy Mazzoli: A New Opera And New Attitude For Classical Music". NPR.org. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
- "A Young Composer's Evening Prayers For Troubled Times". NPR.org. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
- "Missy Mazzoli Named Winner of Annual Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award for Female Composers « Detroit Symphony Orchestra Blog". Blog.dso.org. Retrieved 2012-12-02.