The City Opera's Doggy-Style Love: Peter Sellars Approves

Sellars at the gala.Photo: Patrick McMullan

The City Opera boasts that Mark Morris’s production of King Arthur "offers a rare opportunity to rediscover Purcell.” Audience members at the opening gala Wednesday night discovered a little more than they were expecting to. While the audience wondered if what they were seeing at stage left at the end of the first act was indeed manual stimulation, the rest of Mark Morris’s dancers coupled off, leaving no doubt in our minds that this was, yes, a massive orgy. Featured most prominently (at center stage) was a couple indulging in the pleasures of doggy-style love. Murmurs in the audience as the curtain went down didn’t faze Morris, who, commenting after the show, expressed his belief that “sex is beautiful and violence is obscene.”

Avant-garde theater director Peter Sellars agreed: “It’s the idea of in the middle of all this war, finding love, finding pleasure, day in, day out, more pleasure. We are here to give pleasure. We are here to give pleasure. We are here to give pleasure. We are here to receive pleasure. So please, let’s get real!” Noah Vinson, one of the dancers, hears that. “Tonight it was really spontaneous for us,” he said of his coupling. “I took more of a lead than she did.”

But did Isaac Mizrahi, who designed costumes for the production, miss the memo? When asked what element of medieval fashion he’d most like to resurrect, he replied, “The chastity belt.” —Kathleen Reeves