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Peter Sellars reveals outlandish plans for L.A. Phil's 'Oedipus Rex'

October 24, 2008 |  4:17 pm


Leave it to Peter Sellars to organize a truly outlandish send-off for his good pal Esa-Pekka Salonen.

As previously announced, Sellars will stage Stravinsky's "Oedipus Rex" for the Los Angeles Philharmonic in April 2009 as part of the last series of concerts that Salonen will conduct as music director.

For the world premiere production, Sellars told Culture Monster that he will use five "wild and bizarre" thrones created by the contemporary Ethiopian artist Elias Simé. The thrones -- made of mud, straw and found objects -- will be part of a not-yet-announced Simé exhibition at the Santa Monica Museum of Art and will be "processed" (as in a long, elaborate procession) from Santa Monica to Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown L.A.

"The interaction of these Ethiopian carvings with the wood interior of Disney Hall will be phenomenal," Sellars said. The thrones will also figure in Stravinsky's "Symphony of Psalms," which will be performed on the same bill.

Exactly what route the thrones will take to Disney Hall Sellars did not divulge. (We have a hard time picturing the 10 Freeway closed off for such a high-brow event.)

"Elias Simé: Stitches and Sculptures" opens at the Santa Monica Museum of Art on Jan. 24 and runs through April 18. Sellars is co-curating the exhibition with Ethiopian anthropologist Meskerem Assegued.

— David Ng

Photo credit: Alberto Estevez / EPA

Comments () | Archives (4)

I wonder if Sellers is going to do as good a job as he did with the LA Arts Festival that he trashed.

Are you kidding? I saw Indonesian shadow suppets, a great Canadian dance troupe and the Wooster Group at the Arts Festival that Sellars curated - and if I remember correctly - Circ du Soleil made it's inaugural stop by the SM Pier during his tenure. Maybe it was a little too spread out, but he sure brought some great art to LA.

I am sorry, but you have dates mix up. Soleil was the opening act of the second LA Arts Festival. Sellers had it for the third and fourth time. His tenure was a disaster. It died after the fourth one. He was later director of the Adelaide Arts Fesival. That was a disaster too.
"The Adelaide Festival has had 16 directors in its history, two of whom resigned and four of whom have directed the festival more then once. Anthony Steel holds the record for most stints as director, being at the head of 6 festivals. There were no directors for the festivals of 1966 and 1968, with an advisory board taking on the responsibility. Peter Sellers' brief directorship in 2001 before being replaced by Sue Nattrass remains the most controversial."


Yes, his 1993 Los Angeles Festival was the last one and less than spectacular, but it was because he overspent on the 1990 Los Angeles Festival, which was groundbreaking, phenomenal, overwhelming, gorgeous. And the festival that he curated that took place in Vienna last year celebrating Mozart's 250th birthday was a huge, major success across the board. He doesn't "trash," but rather his ambition over-reaches what's administratively possible. But it seems he's reigning it in and learning. Give the guy a break!


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