Maria Björnson (1949-2002) designed extensively for theatre, opera and ballet. She received numerous awards for her The Phantom of the Opera designs, among them two Tony Awards, two Outer Critics’ Circle Awards and two Drama Critics’ Awards, all for Best Set and Costume. Other theatre credits include Aspects of Love, Follies, The Cherry Orchard, Measure for Measure, The Blue Angel, Camille, Hamlet, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Way of the World, Plenty, Phèdre, Britannicus, The Lulu Plays, Creditors, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Lonely Road and The Cherry Orchard.
Opera work includes productions at The Royal Opera House, La Scala, Bastille Opera, Teatro Verdi Maggio Musicale Florence, Teatro Carlo Felice, Batignano, Glyndebourne, Geneva, English National Opera, Netherlands Opera, Opera North, Welsh National Opera and Scottish Opera.
Additional awards include the Silver Medal for the Janacek Competition Prazké Quadriennale (1983); the Observer’s Experts’ Expert, The Designers’ Designer, in recognition of her contribution to theatre design (1990); and the 19th Franco Abbiato Prize (1999).
At the time of her death, Maria had completed designs for The Trojans (The Met), The Little Prince (Houston Grand Opera) and the set designs for Il Trovatore (Paris Opera), all three directed by Francesca Zambello.