The Music Critics Association of North America has announced that its inaugural Award for Best New Opera has been given to composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek for Breaking the Waves, premiered on September 22, 2016, by Opera Philadelphia in conjunction with Beth Morrison Projects. The award was created to honor musical and theatrical excellence in a fully staged opera that received its world premiere in North America during the preceding calendar year. The award will be presented to the winners on July 19 during the opening of the MCANA Annual Meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The other finalists were Fellow Travelers, by composer Gregory Spears and librettist Greg Pierce, and anatomy theater by composer David Lang and librettist Mark Dion.
After soliciting nominations from MCANA members, the finalists were chosen by an awards committee co-chaired by MCANA members Heidi Waleson, opera critic of The Wall Street Journal, and George Loomis, longtime contributor to the Financial Times and Musical America, alongside committee members Arthur Kaptainis, who writes for the Montreal Gazette and Musical Toronto, representing Canada; John Rockwell, former critic and arts editor of The New York Times and co-New York correspondent of Opera (UK); and Alex Ross, music critic of The New Yorker.