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Ralph Koltai

Guest of the Opera

Ralph Koltai is generally acknowledged as the principal innovator of British Theatre Design. Born in Berlin (1924), he came came to England in 1939, where he graduated from the Central School of Art and Design in London and became head of Theatre Design (1965–1972). He has since designed some 250 productions of Opera, Dance, Drama and Musicals throughout the world (the United Kingdom, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, and the United States). Since 1976 he has been an Associate Designer of the Royal Shakespeare Company and has been involved in thirty productions there. His opera productions (more than 100) include Brecht/Weill’s The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (Sadler‘s Wells Opera), Wagner’s The Ring (1970–1981), Bartók’s Bluebeard's Castle, Bizet‘s Carmen and  Weill/ Brecht’s The Seven Deadly Sins (English National Opera), Schumann’s Genoveva (Opera North), Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg), Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra (Welsh National Opera) and Nabucco (Roman Amphitheatre, Orange), Smetana‘s Dalibor (Scottish National Opera), Janáček‘s Katya Kabanova (Teatro La Fenice in Venice), Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer and Verdi‘s La traviata (Hong Kong Arts Festival). In London’s Royal Opera House Covent Garden he has participated on Wagner’s Tannhäuser and two world premieres – Sir Peter Maxwell Davies‘s Taverner (1972) and Sir Michael Tippett‘s The Ice Break (1977). At the Prague Quadrennial 1975 he participated in the exposition awarded the Gold Medal for stage design (collective) and at the PQ 1979 and 1991 in the exposition awarded the Golden Triga — the main prize. At the PQ 1987 he was awarded the Silver Medal for his stage design for Shakespeare’s Othello. Ralph Koltai has received numerous honours and awards, including the CBE in 1983.


Update: June 2013

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