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Mozart and the Angry Oceans: Ancient Versions of Reconciliation and Climate Change, with Peter Sellars and Ying Fang

September 15, 2018 | 10:00 pm - 11:30 pm

A musical working session with Peter Sellars and Ying Fang.

The 23-year-old Mozart created Idomeneo, his first major opera, powered by passion for political, social, and environmental change—the most radical and explosive vision of the art form until Wagner, nearly a century later. The opera was so demanding, extraordinary, and forward-looking that it was unrealizable in Mozart’s lifetime, and it was never performed complete until our era. Based on Homeric, Cretan, and other ancient sources, it depicts the aftermath of the Trojan War, where the oceans themselves respond to the barbarity and moral outrages of the “victorious” armies with tidal waves, hurricanes, and monsoons. The perpetrators, clinging to their broken ships, are forced to negotiate the survival of their societies with Neptune, the god of the sea. The subsequent betrayal of those negotiations by humans provokes a monstrous tsunami which destroys a coastal city. The restoration of balance and equilibrium, and the engagement with natural forces as living beings, is depicted in Mozart’s dangerous, terrifying, and heartfelt score. In the final act, Mozart transports us into a transcendent world in which a new generation, announcing new priorities, averts an ecological disaster.

Director Peter Sellars and rising star Ying Fang will explore the histories, emotional colors, and layers of meaning that move across time and project themselves and us, prophetically, into a possible future.

This event is free of charge with advanced registration.


September 15, 2018
10:00 pm - 11:30 pm


Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture
San Francisco, CA United States