Glass-Breaking News: Missy Mazzoli to be commissioned by The Metropolitan Opera

Composer Missy Mazzoli, photo credit Caroline Tompkins.

Composer Missy Mazzoli, photo credit Caroline Tompkins.

Composer Missy Mazzoli will be one of the first two women to have a work commissioned and premiered by The Metropolitan Opera, as announced by the institution's Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and General Manager Peter Gelb in an interview published today with the New York Times.

Only two women have had operas presented by the Metropolitan Opera since the company's founding in 1883. Ethel Smyth’s Der Wald debuted in 1903 and Kaija Saariaho’s L'Amour de Loin debuted in 2016. Jeanine Tesori's Grounded, which will also receive a commissioned premiere, has been part of The Met/LCT New Works Program which develops new work for the opera and music theater stages.

Says Mazzoli, "This commission from the Metropolitan Opera is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream and I am grateful beyond measure for this opportunity. I am thrilled to have the chance to create work in what surely is a golden age of American opera, a chapter of American musical history that has the potential and the responsibility to elevate artists of all genders, races and backgrounds. I commit myself wholeheartedly to that effort and look forward to working with the Met in these exhilarating times."

Mazzoli, who was recently profiled by the New York Times, has established a strong name for herself— via her newly announced two-season tenure as Mead Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, her all-woman chamber band, Victoire, her annual mentorship program for aspiring female composers, Luna Composition Lab, her incisive and clear-eyed commentary on gender politics in the classical business, her many successful chamber and orchestral works, and via her three successful operas.

Mazzoli’s third and most recent opera, Proving Up, with librettist Royce Vavrek, is on the brink of a sold out New York premiere run at Miller Theatre (Sep. 26, 28), following critical success with both Opera Omaha and Washington National Opera. Adapted from an eponymous short story by Karen Russell, the opera follows a post-Civil War family’s grueling pursuit of the American Dream during Nebraska’s land rush.

Of the world premiere, Anne Midgette for the Washington Post wrote: "Mazzoli, certainly and happily, continues to show herself a natural opera composer: Her music responds keenly to the story's time and place as well as to its characters' respective journeys."

Mazzoli's second opera, Breaking the Waves, also written with Vavrek, premiered to wild acclaim with Opera Philadelphia in late 2016 and on the 2017 PROTOTYPE: Opera/Theatre/Now Festival. Based on Lars von Trier’s dark and challenging eponymous film, the piece brims with grit and psychological depth.

David Shengold wrote for Opera News, "Mazzoli's music lived up to the hype her work has engendered: Breaking the Waves stands among the best twenty-first century American operas yet produced."

Parterre Box agreed, calling it, "The most startling and moving new American opera in recent memory."

Her opera career began with the breakout hit, Song from the Uproar: The Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt, which premiered in 2012 at The Kitchen in New York City and has since been performed by several companies including LA Opera and Cincinnati Opera, traveling next to Genoa for its Italian premiere (Nov. 2018).