From: Scottburgh, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. LA Opera: L'Elisir d'Amore (1996, debut; 2009); Otello (2008); Thaïs (2014). Upcoming: Otello (2023).
Johan Engels (1952-2014) was renowned internationally for his work in opera, theater and ballet. His designs for The Passenger have been integral to the success of Mieczysław Weinberg’s opera—first in its world stage premiere at the 2010 Bregenz Festival and subsequently in London, Warsaw, Houston (American premiere), New York, Chicago, Detroit and Miami. In addition to his Bregenz productions, highlights of Engels’s operatic career included productions for London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (Arne’s Artaxerxes), the Zurich Opera House (such rarities as Johann Strauss II’s Simplicius, Montemezzi’s L’amore dei tre re, and Chabrier’s L’étoile), the Opéra de Marseille (Ring cycle), LA Opera (L’Elisir d’Amore, also seen in Madrid, Geneva, and Graz), the Salzburg Festival (Turandot), Welsh National Opera (Khovanshchina, Lulu, Don Carlos, the latter coproduced with Houston Grand Opera), the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Opéra National de Paris, Opera North, and Finnish National Opera, among many other companies. In British theater, the designer was associated with the Donmar Warehouse (including David Leveaux’s production of Sophocles’s Electra, which transferred to Broadway), Royal Shakespeare Company, Almeida Theatre, and Chichester Festival.
Among his final projects, he had designed a new Ring cycle for Lyric Opera of Chicago; the first three Ring operas premiered there posthumously between 2016 and 2018.