Salonen and Sellars: the artistic partnership continues to grow with Stravinsky and more

Posted on: June 9, 2022

Stage director Peter Sellars with tenor Sean Panikkar (left) and mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges during rehearsal for the San Francisco Symphony’s performances of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex. Photo: Lea Suzuki

“The thing about the American stage director Peter Sellars is that he can talk you into just about anything,” writes Joshua Kosman in Wednesday’s (6/8) San Francisco Chronicle. “Esa-Pekka Salonen, now the music director of the San Francisco Symphony, discovered that during their first collaboration, the 1992 revival of Olivier Messiaen’s massive six-hour opera ‘Saint François d’Assise’ at the Salzburg Festival…. The partnership between the two artists has flourished over countless projects in the intervening years. And now that Salonen is ensconced as music director of the San Francisco Symphony, he has found new avenues for them to work together. Beginning with this week’s staged double bill of Igor Stravinsky’s ‘Oedipus Rex’ and ‘Symphony of Psalms,’ Sellars and Salonen plan to collaborate on a series of four annual theatrical productions in Davies Symphony Hall. It’s an eclectic lineup, including a revival of Kaija Saariaho’s 2006 opera ‘Adriana Mater,’ Messiaen’s choral work ‘La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ,’ and Leos Janácek’s … ‘The Cunning Little Vixen.’… For Salonen, Sellars’ close attention to the specifics of a musical score is one of the keys to his success as a director…. Sellars, conversely, attributes the power of a performance in part to Salonen’s podium prowess.”