Renowned theatre, opera 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 groundbreaking interpretations of classic works. Whether directing works by Mozart, Handel, Shakespeare, Sophocles or the 16th-century Chinese playwright Tang Xianzu, Sellars strikes a universal chord with audiences, engaging contemporary social and political issues.
Sellars has staged operas at Lincoln Center; the Glyndebourne and Salzburg festivals; the Opéra National de Paris; and the Netherlands, Los Angeles, Chicago Lyric and San Francisco operas, among others.
Following his iconic staging of Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte in the 1980s, Sellars established 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. He has been a driving force in the creation of many new works with longtime collaborator John Adams, including Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer, El Niño, Doctor Atomic and, most recently, A Flowering Tree at Lincoln Center in April 2009.
Other Sellars projects have included a Chicano version of Stravinsky’s The Story of a Soldier; an Antonin Artaud radio play coupled with poetry of the late June Jordan, For an End to the Judgment of God/Kissing God Goodbye, staged as a press conference on the war in Afghanistan; and a production of the Euripides play The Children of Herakles, focusing on contemporary immigration and refugee issues and experience.
Sellars has led several major arts festivals, including the 1990 and 1993 Los Angeles Festivals; the 2002 Adelaide Festival in Australia; and the 2003 Venice Biennale International Festival of Theatre in Italy. He was artistic director of New Crowned Hope, a month-long festival for the city of Vienna’s 2006 Mozart Year, celebrating the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. In January 2009, he was co-curator with Meskerem Assegued on an exhibition at the Santa Monica Museum of Art: Elias Simé: Eye of the Needle, Eye of the Heart.
Sellars is a professor in the department of World Arts and Cultures at UCLA and a resident curator of the Telluride Film Festival. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, the Erasmus Prize, the Sundance Institute Risk-Takers Award, the Gish Prize, and was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.