Melbourne Festival and National Gallery of Victoria present

Peter Sellars

Theatre director and Professor of World Arts and Cultures, Peter Sellars will share experiences from over three decades of work and address the question of how art enables, deepens, and democratises the public and private processes that move people towards justice and equality?

Facilitated by Miriam Cosic, a Sydney-based journalist and critic, a doctoral candidate in philosophy, and the author of two books: Only Child and Right to Die: An Examination of the Euthanasia Debate. She is a former arts editor and literary editor of The Australian.


Opera, theatre, and festival director Peter Sellars has gained international renown for his groundbreaking and transformative interpretations of artistic masterpieces and for his collaborative projects with an extraordinary range of creative artists.

Sellars has staged operas at the Glyndebourne Festival, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Netherlands Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Salzburg Festival, and San Francisco Opera, among others, and has established a reputation for bringing 20th-century and contemporary operas to the stage, including works by Messiaen, Hindemith, Ligeti, and Saariaho. 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. His recent English National Opera production of Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary received audience and critical acclaim. Sellars’ concert stagings of Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion and Saint John Passion with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra garnered sweeping praise in Europe and New York. The Indian Queen, combining Purcell music, text, and dance, had its premiere at the Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre in 2013 and was presented earlier this year at ENO. Sellars has led several major arts festivals, including the 1990 and 1993 Los Angeles Festivals and the 2002 Adelaide Arts Festival.

In 2006 he was Artistic Director of New Crowned Hope, a month-long festival in Vienna for which he invited artists from diverse cultural backgrounds to create new work in the fields of music, theater, dance, film, the visual arts, and architecture for the celebration of Mozart’s 250th birth anniversary. Sellars is a professor in the Department of World Arts and Cultures at UCLA. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, the Erasmus Prize, and the Gish Prize, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2014 he was awarded the prestigious Polar Music Prize and named Artist of the Year by Musical America.

Part of the Artist in Conversation series.