Phantom of the Opera

Set Designer Maria Björnson (1949-2002)

Maria Björnson was well known as a production designer for the Phantom of the Opera. Her work has earned her a number of prizes.


Maria was born to a Norwegian father and a Romanian Mother in Paris.

Her great grandfather, Bjornstjerne Bjornson (1832-1910) won the Nobel Peace Prize for literature in 1903.

Her great uncle, Bjorn Bjornson was the first director of the Norwegian National Theatre.

Maria studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art and at the Central School of Art and Design as a student of Ralph Koltai. She designed sets and costumes for theater, ballet and opera.

At the age of 14, Maria was taken to artist Cecil Collins who recognised Maria's talent and suggested that she became a theatrical designer.

Her early theatre career was spent at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow,
her work was recognised and she was invited to design for 'The Phantom of the Opera.'

Her career spanned over 32 years, earning her two Tony, two Outer Critics awards and two Los Angeles Drama critics awards mainly from her work of 'The Phantom of the Opera.'

On Friday the 13th of December, Maria was found dead in her bathtub due to Chickenpox. She was working on new ideas during the time and it was unfortunate for her to pass away then.

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