Opera, theater, and festival director PETER SELLARS is one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the performing arts in America and abroad. A visionary artist, Sellars is known for ground-breaking interpretations of classic works. Whether it is Mozart, Handel, Shakespeare, Sophocles, or the 16th-century Chinese playwright Tang Xianzu, Peter Sellars strikes a universal chord with audiences, engaging and illuminating contemporary social and political issues.
Sellars has staged operas at the Glyndebourne Festival, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Netherlands Opera, the Opéra National de Paris, the Salzburg Festival, the San Francisco Opera, and the Santa Fe Opera, among others, establishing a reputation for bringing 20th-century and contemporary operas to the stage, including works by Olivier Messiaen, Paul Hindemith, and György Ligeti. Inspired by the compositions of Kaija Saariaho, Osvaldo Golijov, and Tan Dun, he has guided the creation of productions of their work that have expanded the repertoire of modern opera. Sellars has been a driving force in the creation of many new works with longtime collaborator composer John Adams, including Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer, El Niño, Doctor Atomic, and A Flowering Tree. A staging of their latest work, The Gospel According to the Other Mary, will be seen in the U.S. and in Europe early in 2013.
Recent Sellars projects have included a critically acclaimed concert staging of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra performed in Salzburg and Berlin, and stagings of Nixon in China for the Metropolitan Opera, George Crumb’s “The Winds of Destiny” for the Ojai Music Festival and Cal Performances, and new productions of Handel’s Hercules in Chicago and Vivaldi’s Griselda in Santa Fe. Desdemona, a collaboration with the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison and Malian composer and singer Rokia Traore, was performed in Vienna, Brussels, Paris, Berkeley, New York, and Berlin, and was presented in London as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. In 2013, Sellars staged a double bill of Tchaikovsky’s IOLANTA and Stravinsky’s PERSEPHONE for Teatro Real in Madrid.
Sellars has led several major arts festivals, including the 1990 and 1993 Los Angeles Festivals; the 2002 Adelaide Arts Festival in Australia; and the 2003 Venice Biennale International Festival of Theater in Italy. In 2006 he was Artistic Director of New Crowned Hope, a month-long festival in Vienna for which he invited international artists from diverse cultural backgrounds to create new work in the fields of music, theater, dance, film, the visual arts, and architecture for the city of Vienna's Mozart Year celebrating the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth.
Sellars is a professor in the Department of World Arts and Cultures at UCLA and Resident Curator of the Telluride Film Festival. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, the Erasmus Prize, the Sundance Institute Risk-Takers Award, and the Gish Prize, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was recently honored by the American Academy in Rome and Opera News magazine.