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(In Person Only) Strange Dreams: An Evening of Music with Cultural Fellows Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek

Thu March 14 @ 19 h 30 - 20 h 30


Grammy-nominated composer Missy Mazzoli and Pulitzer Prize-winning librettist Royce Vavrek present opera for the 21st-century.

Following the success of their hit opera Breaking the Waves, which made its French debut at Opéra Comique last season, American composer Missy Mazzoli and Canadian/American librettist Royce Vavrek return to Paris as American Library in Paris Cultural Fellows. In this exclusive preview concert, Mazzoli and Vavrek will present their compositions and speak about current projects. Soprano Amelia Watkins will perform arias from Mazzoli and Vavrek’s last four operas, and the creators will discuss their approach to musical storytelling in the 21st century, an approach that expands the operatic tradition to include stories of cult leaders, female explorers, suburban loneliness and much more.

The Cultural Fellows will be accompanied by Benjamin Alunni, Amelia Watkins, and Fernando Palomeque.

About the artists: 

Grammy-nominated composer Missy Mazzoli was deemed “one of the more consistently intentive, surprising composers now working in New York” (The New York Times) and “Brooklyn’s post-millennial Mozart” (Time Out New York). Mazzoli was the Mead Composer-in-Residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 2018-2021, and from 2015-2018 she was the Composer-in-Residence with Opera Philadelphia. Mazzoli’s music has been performed internationally by Kronos Quartet, Norwegian National Opera, eighth blackbird, pianist Emanual Ax, Opera Philadelphia, LA Opera, New York City Opera, the Detroit Symphony, the LA Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, JACK Quartet, cellist Maya Beiser, violinist Jennifer Koh, Dublin’s Crash Ensemble, the Sydney Symphony, and many others. In 2018 she made history as one of the first two women to be commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera. 

Royce Vavrek is an Alberta-born librettist and lyricist who has been called “the indie Hofmannsthal” (The New Yorker) and “one of the most celebrated and sought after librettists in the world” (CBC Radio). His opera “Angel’s Bone” with composer Du Yun was awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize. Upcoming commissions include “Agnes” for Icelandic Opera (with Daníel Bjarnason),“Lincoln in the Bardo” for The Metropolitan Opera (with Missy Mazzoli), “Fanny andAlexander” for La Monnaie (with Mikael Karlsson), “Indians on Vacation” for EdmontonOpera/Against the Grain (with Ian Cusson) and “My Family // Cambodia, 1975” (with Vivian Fung) supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.

While maintaining a major presence in the contemporary music repertoire Benjamin Alunni loves devoting himself to creation. He regularly performs on the stage of several leading stages such as IRCAM-Centre Pompidou, le Théâtre de la Monnaie I De Munt, Théâtres du Luxembourg, l’Opéra Comique, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Lincoln Center, Gulbenkian Foundation… He began his professional career in Baroque music – Christophe Rousset, Skip Sempé, Raphaël Pichon… He has been performing regularly with Les Arts Florissants and William Christie since the revival of the mythical production of Lully‘s Atys. His love for crossing genres have led him to work with choreographers such as Thomas Lebrun – Centre Choreography National de Tours in which he performed at Festival d’Avignon, Palais de Chaillot and while touring France and Asia. Confluence(s) Benjamin’s first solo album – Klarthe records – is dedicated to French melody inspired by Jewish cultures. He is the vocal coach for the Classe Libre at Le Cours Florent in Paris. To find out more, please visit benjaminalunni.com

Dubbed “The divine Ms. Watkins” by the New York Times, soprano Amelia Watkins has performed with leading orchestras and opera companies in the United States, Canada, Asia and Europe. Since her European debut at the Leipzig Gewandhaus, she has appeared with such organizations as the Los Angeles Opera, New York City Opera, the Estates Theatre/National Theatre Prague, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall, Weill Hall, Lincoln Centre, the Tanglewood Music Festival, the Verbier Festival, The National Arts Centre, the Prototype Festival and with Musica Viva in Hong Kong. Embracing musical styles from Bach to Berio and beyond, Amelia specializes in the works of living and experimental composers. Amelia has been featured in recording on the multi Grammy-nominated album Vocabularies with Bobby McFerrin, Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek’s Song From The Uproar, Albany Record’s New Growth, and Cantaloupe Record’s Acquanetta, and various commercial and indie film scores. ameliawatkins.com

Conductor and pianist (Buenos Aires, 1990), Fernando Palomeque is one of the most recognized Argentine musicians of his generation. He has graduated from the National Conservatory of Music of Paris in the DAI (Post-Master) and obtained his master degree in conducting at the Robert Schumann Hochschule in Dusseldorf (Class : Rüdiger Bohn) In addition, he did a specialization in conducting contemporary repertoire with Jean-Philippe Wurtz at the Conservatory of Strasbourg. His engagement with new music, led him to work with some of the most important ensembles in the world such as the Ensemble Intercontemporain, Ensemble Musikfabrik, Klangforum Wien and Ensemble Modern. Until 2024, he will be part of the Young Promising Conductors project of Ulysses Network. Recently, he received the 3rd Prize at the III International Conducting Competition “Città di Brescia.”



In March, the Library is delighted to be hosting Reverberations: Literature Out Loud, a festival spotlighting innovations in the arts. In a series of concerts, conversations, and workshops, artists and authors are coming together to celebrate the history of storytelling and sound. Learn more about the festival and discover other events.

Reverberations is organized in partnership with the Opéra Comique and with the generous support of Festival Napa Valley, the American Center for Arts and Culture, and the Florence Gould Foundation.

Learn more:

Missy and Royce’s opera Breaking the Waves was described as “among the best 21st-century operas yet.” (Opera News) Rewatch their appearance at the American Library in Paris last year to speak about staging the show at Opéra Comique and offer a preview performance. 

Missy has been nominated for three Grammy awards, most recently for her 2023 album Dark with Excessive Bright. Listen to an excerpt.

Missy and Royce are currently working on an operatic adaptation of Lincoln in the Bardo, commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, and slated to premiere at the Met in 2026. Read about this historic commission

In 2016, alongside composer Ellen Reid, Missy founded Luna Composition Lab, a mentorship program for young female, nonbinary and gender nonconforming composers. Discover their work.

Important information: The performance will be in person at the Library only.

Attendance at this event constitutes permission for your photograph or video to be taken at the event and used by the American Library in Paris for marketing, promotional, pedagogical, or other purposes.

Evenings with an Author are free and open to the public (with a 10€ suggested donation)
thanks to the generous support of Gregory Annenberg Weingarten of GRoW @ Annenberg.


Thu March 14
19 h 30 min - 20 h 30 min
Event Categories:
(In Person Only) Strange Dreams: An Evening of Music with Cultural Fellows Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek
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