MacArthur Genius Fellow Peter Sellars is an American theater director, noted for his unique contemporary stagings of classical and contemporary operas and plays. His staging of Don Giovanni was cast, costumed, and presented to resemble a blaxploitation film; his production of George Frideric Handel’s Orlando was set in outer space; and his staging of Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte was set in a Cape Cod diner. His “post-racial” production of Othello, starring John Ortiz in the title role and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Iago, showed at New York City’s Public Theater to critical acclaim and larger cultural conversations about “blind casting.” Public programs surrounding his 2006 Lincoln Center production of Mozart’s unfinished opera Zaide focused on slavery past and present, as well as an exploration of Mozart’s abolitionist perspectives. Sellars is the recipient of the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize and a professor at UCLA, where he teaches art as social action and art as moral action.
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