Director Peter Sellars - shocking again in new Adams opera

Thu Nov 20, 2014 1:57pm EST
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - Peter Sellars's new opera opens with a drug addict banging her head against the bars of a prison cell in what the American director says conceptualises a woman's version of the Passion.

To be seen at the first full staging of composer John Adams's "The Gospel According to the Other Mary" at the English National Opera on Friday, it's an image of intense suffering.

But Sellars says the intent is to evoke labour pains - life-giving rather than death.

As the woman suffers, Sellars's libretto describes the pain of giving birth.

"It feels like the end of the world, but what you're actually doing is giving birth, so what looks like the worst times are in fact the beginning of the birth of a new era, and we always forget that," he told Reuters.

Sellars, 57, once considered the bad boy of opera for works like his 1980 setting of Mozart's "Don Giovanni" in the underworld of New York's Harlem, has been involved in plenty of provocative productions in his time.

He did the original staging in 1991 of fellow American Adams's "The Death of Klinghoffer", based on a true story of a crippled Jewish man who was killed and thrown overboard from a cruise ship hijacked by Palestinians.

A revival in a new production last month brought out protesters at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City who claimed the work was anti-Semitic - which Sellars denies.   Continued...

U.S. theatre director Peter Sellars reacts as he receives the Swedish Polar Music Prize at a ceremony in Stockholm August 26, 2014. REUTERS/Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency