Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Friday, May 31

Peter Sellars and John Adams

Synopsis

For fans of British comedy, the name Peter Sellars conjures up an actor famous for his iconic role as the bumbling Chief Inspector Clouseau in “Pink Panther” movies. But for opera fans, the name refers to a completely different fellow: an American theater director born in 1957.

The American Peter Sellars is notorious for staging classic operas as if they were set in present-day America. For example: Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” in a dangerous, drug-dealing neighborhood in New York City's Spanish Harlem, or “The Marriage of Figaro” in a luxury penthouse in Trump Tower.

Sellars is also the frequent partner of American composer John Adams in brand-new operas and concert projects. On today’s date 2012, a new oratorio by Adams and Sellars titled “The Gospel According to the Other Mary” received its world premiere at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles with Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.

The new work’s libretto, crafted by Sellars, tells the Biblical story of the passion and death of Jesus from the point of view of "the other Mary," Mary Magdalene, alongside texts and scenes from contemporary American life, including a women’s shelter, labor and social justice protests, and the opioid crisis. If Jesus were alive today, Sellars and Adams seem to be saying, He would be ministering to the suffering margins of American society, not to the rich and powerful.

Music Played in Today's Program

John Adams (b. 1949) chorus, fr “The Gospel According to the Other Mary” Los Angeles Master Chorale & Los Angeles Philharmonic; Gustavo Dudamel, cond. DG 0289 479 2243 8

Additional Information

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