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Karl-Ernst Herrmann

Karl-Ernst Herrmann


The German artist Karl-Ernst Herrmann (* 12. 8. 1936, Neukirch/Lausitz; † 13. 5. 2018, Berlin) studied stage design at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, and made his debut as set designer in Ulm, in 1961. Early on in his career, he began to collaborate with many German theatres. Between 1971 and 1982, he was engaged by the Schaubühne am Halleschen Ufer, where he worked with, among others, Peter Stein and later on with Luc Bondy. In 1972, he debuted at the Salzburg Festival, collaborating with Claus Peymann on the world premiere of Thomas Bernhard´s drama Der Ignorant und der Wahnsinnige. He then carried on working with Peymann for several subsequent years, staging further productions of Bernhard plays at Vienna´s Burgtheater.

            In 1982, he teamed up with his wife, Ursel, for a staging of Mozart´s opera La clemenza di Tito at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels. This project marked the beginning of many years of the husband-and-wife couple´s fruitful creative partnership whose later productions for the Brussels company included Mozart´s Don Giovanni, La finta giardiniera, Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Die Zauberflöte, and Verdi´s La traviata. In 1992, they were invited as a creative team by the then director of the Salzburg Festival, Gerard Mortier. Their subsequent commissions for the event included productions of Mozart´s La clemenza di Tito, La finta giardiniera and Idomeneo, and a stage version of his Ombra felice, as well as the opera Les Boréades by J.-P. Rameau. On his own, Karl-Ernst Herrmann created for the Salzburg Festival set designs for its productions of Botho Strauss´ drama Das Gleichgewicht, Chekhov´s The Cherry Orchard, and Schoenberg´s opera Moses und Aron. As a stage designer, he also participated in the production of Tchaikovsky´s opera Eugene Onegin at the Staatsoper Hamburg. Other projects on which he has worked together with his wife Ursel include e.g. productions of Handel´s operas Semele    (Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin) and Giulio Cesare  (De Nederlandse Opera, Amsterdam), and Mozart´s Idomeneo  (De Nederlandse Opera, Amsterdam) and La clemenza di Tito  (Teatro Real, Madrid). At the National Theatre in Prague, the two artists staged much acclaimed productions of Mozart´s La clemenza di Tito  (2006, Alfred Radok Award for the Production of the Year) and La finta giardiniera  (2008). Between 1994 and 2002, Karl-Ernst Herrmann and his wife Ursel taught stage direction and set design at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich.

Update: May 2018