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 Post subject: Maria Bjørnson, designer - obituaries
PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2002 6:35 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Maria Bjørnson, a brilliant post-war UK designers has died. I enjoy expressionism and trompe l'oeuil art, so i was one of the few who enjoyed her designs for "The Sleeping Beauty".

There are three obituaries online (thanks to for pointing the way).

Maria Bjørnson
A leading set and costume designer, she brought a unique sense of romantic expressionism to theatre, opera and musicals. By David Jays for The Guardian

Maria Bjornson, who has died suddenly aged 53, was one of the boldest talents in theatre and opera of the last 30 years. Designing both sets and costumes, she was at the centre of revelatory transformations in opera production, eclectic Shakespeare and the globe-trotting musical. Design increasingly became the defining interpretative element of performance, and Bjornson's uncanny images were acclaimed in Britain and beyond.
Her designs were lavish but unsettling, as she perfected a unique idiom of romantic expressionism. Her sets often functioned as magnificently haunted cages, as in the most widely-seen production on which she worked, The Phantom Of The Opera.

Both her Norwegian father, whom she did not know until she reached adulthood, and her Romanian mother belonged to families who worked in the theatre.

click for more


Maria Bjørnson
Stage designer whose eye for detail was central to Phantom of the Opera and a host of theatre and opera productions. From The Times

Stage designers often do not get the credit they deserve. It is performers, composers, writers and directors who get mentioned in reviews. But Maria Bjørnson was widely regarded as being central to the concept of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera long before the 1986 musical even existed.

Already in 1984 when the producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh and Lloyd Webber were discussing how to tackle the subject using some of Lloyd Webber’s music written for other purposes, Mackintosh was convinced that the physical imagery and adventure, the boat journey to the Phantom’s lair, the sense of backstage magic, the colourfulness of 19th-century opera, would have to be crucial elements in the recipe.

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Maria Bjørnson
From The Times

Maria Björnson, who died suddenly yesterday aged 53, was a set and costume designer who worked in theatre, opera and ballet.

Her versatility across this broad spectrum of the performing arts was one of her greatest strengths; she was also admired for her attention to detail. To the wider public, however, Maria Björnson was perhaps best known for the colours, textures and rich drapery which she brought to Phantom of the Opera and which produced an almost cinematic effect.

When the production went to Her Majesty's Theatre in London in 1986, all the original Victorian stage machinery was discovered beneath the stage; Maria Björnson found a way of harnessing it to show the Phantom travelling across the lake as if floating on a sea of mist and fire.

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<small>[ 12-16-2002, 19:35: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: Maria Bjørnson, designer - obituaries
PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2002 3:13 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 05, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 3129
Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
From The Independent.

Maria Bjørnson was regarded by her peers as Britain's most inspired set and costume designer for theatre, opera, and ballet, as was revealed in a newspaper survey of their opinions in the late 1980s. She electrified the public with her wild and imaginative stage and costume designs for Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera in 1986. Her life was one of intense creative fulfilment, but also a story of love and tragedy worthy of one of the operas she had designed.


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