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Renowned theater, opera, festival director Peter Sellars to speak at Syracuse University Sept. 16

September 08, 2010

Erica Blust
(315) 443-5891

Peter Sellars, a renowned theater, opera and festival director and one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the performing arts, will speak at Syracuse University on Thursday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m. as part of “Art and Civic Dialogue: the Seminar on the Future of Art and Education,” a graduate seminar in SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA).

sellarsThe lecture will be held in the John D. Archbold Theatre in the theater complex shared by Syracuse Stage and VPA’s Department of Drama at 820 E. Genesee St., Syracuse. It is free and open to the public; tickets are required and will be available beginning Thursday, Sept. 9, at the Schine Box Office in the Hildegarde and J. Myer Schine Student Center.

“Sellars’ reputation as both an innovative agent of change within the world of opera and theater and an articulate champion of art’s social utility make him an ideal participant in the early stage of the ‘Art and Civic Dialogue’ seminar,” says David A. Ross, ’71, a museum director and educator who is co-leading the seminar with artist Carrie Mae Weems.

“Art and Civic Dialogue” is a yearlong, enhanced graduate seminar that explores the dynamic social relationship between artists and the communities in which they live. Open to graduate students from all disciplines at the University, the seminar considers the role of the artist in society—past, present and future—coupled with the pivotal role of the University in preparing artists, critical thinkers, writers and public intellectuals for engaged citizenship.

Sellars is known for his groundbreaking interpretations of classic works through which audiences are engaged in contemporary social and political issues. He has staged operas at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Glyndebourne Festival, the Netherlands Opera, Opéra National de Paris, the Salzburg Festival, San Francisco Opera and 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, Sellars 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” and “Doctor Atomic.”

Recent Sellars projects have included a staging of Stravinsky’s “Oedipus Rex/Symphony of Psalms” for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Sydney Festival; a production of Shakespeare’s “Othello” performed in Vienna, Bochum, Germany, and New York; and a critically acclaimed staging of Bach’s “Saint Matthew Passion” for the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra seen in Salzburg and Berlin.

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 Theatre 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. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The lecture is co-sponsored by VPA, Syracuse Stage and the office of Carole Brzozowski, the University’s performing arts presenter. For more information on the lecture, contact Dani Mosko at (315) 443-0296 or

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