The Society of British Theatre Designers

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Biography

Hungarian by descent, Ralph Koltai served with British Intelligence on War Crimes Interrogation. He studied at the Central School of Art and Design in London and subsequently became Head of the Theatre Design Department (1965-72). He has designed some two hundred productions of opera, drama, dance and musicals in the United Kingdom, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, and the United States.
As a director, work includes: "The Flying Dutchman" and "La Traviata" (Hong Kong Arts Festival 1987).

Work in the theatre includes: Thirty productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company where he is Associate Designer including: "Cyrano De Bergerac", "Troilus and Cressida" and "Othello"; an all-male production of "As You Like It" (National Theatre, 1967 and San Francisco/New York 1975); "Back To Methuselah", "State of Revolution", "The Guardsman", "Brand", "Richard III", "The Wild Duck", "Man And Superman" (National Theatre); and musicals: "Billy", "Bugsy Malone", "Dear Anyone", "Metropolis", "Hair" (London's West End); "Carrie", "My Fair Lady" (New York Broadway).

Work in opera and dance includes: "Tanhäuser", "Taverner", "The Icebreak" (Royal Opera, Covent Garden); "The Planets" (Royal Ballet); "Mahagonny", "Bluebeard's Castle", "Carmen", Wagner's Complete Ring Cycle 1970-1981, "The Seven Deadly Sins", "Anna Karenina", "Pacific Overtures" (English National Opera).

Recent work includes: "Genoveva" (Opera North); "Don Giovanni" (Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg); "Simon Boccanegra" (Welsh National Opera); "Nabucco" (Roman Amphitheatre, Orange); "Dalibor" (Scottish Opera); "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (Gladsaxe Teater, Copenhagen); "Suddenly Last Summer" as director and designer (Nottingham Playhouse). Future plans include: "Katya Kabanova" (La Fenice, Venice).

Ralph Koltai was awarded the CBE in 1983; was elected to The Royal Society of Arts (RDI) in 1984 and received a special Award for Distinguished Service to the Theatre by the USITT. He has received numerous other national and international awards including: London Drama Critics award 1967 and 1981; Society of West End Theatre: Designer of the Year 1978 and 1984; he was part of the Gold Medal winning team at the Prague Quadrennial in 1975, Silver Medal at PQ in 1987, and 'Golden Troika' National Award at PQs in 1979 and 1991. Ralph is also a Fellow of The Academy of Performing Arts, Hong Kong, Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design, London.

The Ralph Koltai Retrospective Exhibition by the London Institute opened in 1997 with the publication "Ralph Koltai - Designer For the Stage" by Lund Humphries.