On Thursday, Jan. 10, Peter Sellars, who is widely regarded as one of the world’s most innovative leading directors for his modern productions of classical opera and plays — and is currently in Chicago staging John Adams' Doctor Atomic at the Lyric Opera — will give a lecture, titled "Art and History," at 7:30 p.m. in Mandel Hall as part of the University's Artspeaks fellows program.
Artspeaks is offering two tickets for the price of one for the Sellars lecture. Individual tickets are $20 for the general public, and $5 for University of Chicago students with a valid ID. To buy tickets in advance, please contact the Artspeaks Hotline at 773-702-8080.
The director of more than 100 productions in opera, theatre and film, Sellars has been creating inventive, dramatic interpretations since his undergraduate years at Harvard University. It was there that he performed a puppet version of Wagner's Ring Cycle and produced Antony and Cleopatra in the swimming pool of Harvard’s Adams House. During his senior year, Sellars' production of Handel's Orlando at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge brought him national attention for his original, modern staging.
In 1983, only two years after graduating from Harvard, Sellars received a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" grant. After studying in Japan, China and India, he became artistic director of the Boston Shakespeare Company. At the age of 26, he became the director of the American National Theater at Kennedy Center.
Sellars is equally renowned for his work in opera, having directed original and contemporary visions of classic operas, including Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte, which he staged in a diner on Cape Cod, and Don Giovanni, which was performed in New York City's Spanish Harlem. He also re-imagined numerous 20th-century operas, from Olivier Messiaen's St. François d'Assise and Paul Hindemith's Mathis der Maler to John Adams’ and Alice Goodman's Nixon in China.
David Levin, Associate Professor of Theater and Performance Studies, Cinema and Media Studies and Germanic Studies, notes the work is intimately tied to the University, as it focuses on the moral and political quandaries of the group developing the first atomic bomb. "Peter Sellars' ties to the University transcend the thematics of this opera. More than any artist I know, he is a born pedagogue," said Levin. "His learning is vast, his vision extensive and his enthusiasm infectious."