We gave it a B+
Opera traditionalists have vilified the director Peter Sellars for his updated and iconoclastic stagings of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro (set in New York’s Trump Tower), Don Giovanni (set in the ravaged South Bronx), and Così Fan Tutte (set at a postmodern diner). But Sellars has found an audience among open-minded opera fans who believe that the great works are timeless enough to transcend their original settings. The traditional stagings, after all, are hardly extinct.
In Destination: Mozart — A Night at the Opera with Peter Sellars the director explains himself, with support from the singers and designers who worked with him on the three controversial productions. And although this well-constructed, fast-moving documentary is not likely to convert the spiky-haired director’s foes, it should leave no doubt that he has thought deeply about the works and found much in them that can be shown in a contemporary staging. Granted, there are times when Sellars and his colleagues overstate their case or lose sight of historical or stylistic points. But the excerpts from the productions show how on-target some of his ideas are. If only those excerpts were longer and more plentiful.