American University of Beirut

Peter Sellars

Frequently controversial, always original, Peter Sellars is a world-renowned director of opera, theater, and film. Throughout his remarkable career in the performing arts, Sellars has been hailed as one of the boldest and most innovative theater practitioners in the world.
A graduate of Harvard University, Peter Sellars is best known for his progressive and daring productions of classical and contemporary operas. Among his early productions notable for their ingenuity were Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra staged in a swimming pool, Handel’s Orlando set in outer space, and Mozart’s Don Giovanni done in the style of a Blaxploitation movie. 

At the age of 26, Sellars was made Director and Manager of the American National Theatre in Washington D.C., followed by work at theatre and opera companies all over the world. He has been director of such notable arts events as the 1990 and 1993 Los Angeles Festivals; the 2002 Adelaide Festival in Australia; the 2003 Venice Biennale International Festival of Theatre in Italy; and in 2006, New Crowned Hope in Vienna which celebrated the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. Working with longtime artistic collaborator John Adams, Sellars has conceived and directed the operas Nixon in China, Doctor Atomic, and A Flowering Tree. Sellars is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the Erasmus Prize, the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, the Sundance Institute Risk-Takers Award, and the Polar Music Prize awarded by Sweden. Sellars was selected as a mentor in the Rolex Arts Initiative and he in turn selected the artist Maya Zbib of the Beirut-based theater company, Zoukak, as his protégé. 

Sellars has never shied away from taking on difficult themes and relishes embracing non-Western traditions. His operas, plays, and films have probed such challenging moral issues as war, poverty, modern slavery, and the global refugee crisis. Sellars’ works are characterized by technical virtuosity combined with penetrating social critique, exploring questions about history and what it means to be human. A visionary artist who embraces global multiculturalism, Sellars’ recent work has included a production of Desdemona in collaboration with the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison and Malian composer and singer Rokia Traoré.
Peter Sellars is a Distinguished Professor of World Arts and Cultures at UCLA and Resident Curator of the Telluride Film Festival. In 2013, he made a memorable visit to AUB giving workshops and lectures, and sharing his vision and energy with numerous groups.

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