Visionary director Peter Sellars to deliver 2013 Maitra Lecture

Peter Sellars (Photo by Ruth Walz)
Peter Sellars (Photo by Ruth Walz)

(Note: This lecture is sold out. To access a free live webcast, go to the Special Events page and click on the "Watch it Live" button).

The UC Santa Cruz Foundation presents the 13th annual Sidhartha Maitra Memorial Lecture--featuring acclaimed opera, theater and festival director Peter Sellars--on Thursday, December 5, at 7 p.m., in the UCSC Music Center Recital Hall.

Sellars will speak on the theme of “Creativity, Innovation, and the Arts.”

From his techno-industrial production of King Lear and his staging of Antony and Cleopatra in the swimming pool of Harvard’s Adams House during his college years, to later works such as Nixon in China and Dr. Atomic, Sellars has greatly influenced contemporary theater, opera, music, and film.

A visionary artist renowned for his innovative re-interpretations of classic works, Sellars has directed more than 100 productions across the U.S. and Europe.

After graduating from Harvard, Sellars studied in Japan, China and India before signing on as artistic director of the Boston Shakespeare Company. He was soon chosen to lead the American National Theatre at the Kennedy Centre in Washington, D.C., and has since worked at theatre and opera companies around the world.

He has also been the guiding force behind many 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.

Along the way, Sellars has also been a professor in the Department of World Arts and Cultures at UCLA, a visiting lecturer at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and  “resident curator” of the Telluride Film Festival.

In 1980, Sellars’s production of George Frideric Handel’s Orlando at the American Repertory Theatre—set in outer space—drew national attention.

He followed that with Mozart’s opera, Cosi Fan Tutte, set in a diner on Cape Cod; The Marriage of Figaro, set in a luxury apartment in New York City’s Trump Tower; and Don Giovanni, set in New York City’s Spanish Harlem, and directed as a blaxploitation movie.

He also directed a production of The Persians at the Edinburgh Festival in 1993 as a response to the Gulf War of 1990-1991.

In 1998, Sellars was awarded the Erasmus Prize for his work combining European and American cultural traditions in opera and theater.

A close collaborator with composer John Adams, Sellars directed and wrote the libretto for Adams's Dr. Atomic, about Robert Oppenheimer and the development of the atomic bomb, for the San Francisco Opera in 2005, and the Chicago Lyric Opera in 2008.

He also directed the world premiere of Adams’s opera, Nixon in China, in Houston in 1987, and made his Metropolitan Opera directorial debut with the same production in 2011, which was broadcast in many theaters around the world.

Sellars’s most recent productions include Desdemona--a collaboration with Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison and Malian composer and singer Rokia Traore—which was performed in Vienna, Brussels, Paris, Berkeley, New York, and Berlin, and also presented in London as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.  


The 13th annual Sidhartha Maitra Memorial Lecture featuring Peter Sellars is sold out. However, the event will be streamed live at 7 p.m. on December 5. To access the free live webcast, go to the Special Events page and click on the “Watch it Live” button. For more information, contact the UCSC Special Events Office at (831) 459-5003 or