Which words and which opera librettos are best placed to express our contemporary realities, be they socioeconomic, political, or environmental? Which stories inspire us and fill us with strong emotion? The theatre director Peter Sellars discuss and debate with Sofi Oksanen novelist and librettist of the opera Innocence around the question of engaged art.
Sofi Oksanen (born in 1977) is a Finnish-Estonian author and playwright, and one of the most renowned Scandinavian novelists today. In 2008, she achieved international acclaim with her third work Purge, winning several literary prizes including Great Finnish Book Club Prize, SSKK Recognition Award, Kristiina of the Year Award, Mika Waltari Award, Kalevi Jäntti Prize, Finlandia Award, Runeberg Award, Nordic Council’s Literature Prize, the Green Carnation Prize, the International Dublin Literary Award and the Prix Médicis. Her work received attention in France with the Prix Femina étranger for foreign novels, the prix du roman Fnac, the Prix des libraires (Booksellers Award). Sofi Oksanen has also written Stalin's cows, Baby Jane, When the Doves Disappeared, Norma and Koirapuisto. She was lauded with the Estonian Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana in 2010, the Order of the Lion of Finland in 2012, the Swedish Nordic Prize in 2013, and the French Ordre national du Mérite (National Order of Merit) in 2019. With the composer Kaija Saariaho, she wrote her first opera libretto Innocence for which the World Première was scheduled for the 2020 edition of the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence and has now been deferred to the 2021 edition.
The American stage director Peter Sellars gained recognition with his productions of 20th and 21st century works by Hindemith, Ligeti, Messiaen, and Stravinsky, and he also participated in creating some of John Adam’s operas such as Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer, El Niño, Doctor Atomic, A Flowering Tree and The Gospel According to the Other Mary. He has directed works by the composer Kaija Saariaho and has collaborated with novelist Toni Morriso, and composer and singer Rokia Traoré for the creation of Desdemona. He has directed productions for the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence which include Zaide by Mozart, Iolanta / Perséphone by Tchaïkovski / Stravinski as well as Stravinsky’s Œdipus Rex / Symphonie de Psaumes. Sellars has regularly worked with the Dutch National Opera, the English National Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Paris National Opera, the Salzburg Festival, and the San Francisco Opera. He is artistic director of New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna, as well as professor at the University of California in Los Angeles and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Dramaturge of the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence
WITH THE SUPPORT OF