Born 1936. After finishing at the applied arts school in Brno he studied stage design at the Academy of Performing Arts under Professor Tröster (1957-60). He then spent twenty years in the Hradec Králové theatre, where he made his artistic mark especially in productions staged in collaboration with director Milan Pásek. Together they left Hradec Králové for the Theatre of the Mrštík Brothers (nowadays the Municipal Theatre) in Brno. Here his collaboration with Milan Pásek continued and not only on the stage of this theatre. Together (in collaboration with Václav Nosek as dramaturge and conductor) they initiated an exceptional period of operatic production in Brno, with fifteen productions of rarely staged works: Pelléas et Mélisande (Debussy), Dead Souls (Shchedrin), Johannes doktor Faust (Josef Berg), Die Kluge (Orff), Lulu (Alban Berg), The Nose (Shostakovich), Duke Blue-beard’s Castle (Bartók).
For more than another fifteen years he has been collaborating with director Alena Vaňáková, again on the stage of the Janáček Opera House, but also in the Chamber Opera House of Miloš Wasserbauer - and he also teaches at the Janáček Academy of Music. His great operatic productions co-produced with director Alena Vaňáková include Janáček’s opera The Excursions of Mr. Brouček, Fate and Katya Kabanova. Together they also staged Smetana’s The Kiss and Puccini’s Turandot.
In almost forty years of his work as stage designer in the drama and opera theatre, Karel Zmrzlý has developed his own distinct ‚style‘ of kinetic, easily movable settings which offer the director an original use of theatrical space. His first work in the National Theatre in Prague was the stage designs for J. F. Fischer’s opera Copernicus and A. Dvořák’s opera Rusalka.