Anna Kontek

Stage and costume designer

Headshot of the artist

Born in Poland, Anna Kontek graduated as an architect in Warsaw, then earned a Master’s degree in stage design at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki in 1984. As part of her graduation project she designed sets and costumes for the ballet The Little Prince for the Finnish National Opera in 1982, where she was engaged later that year.

Outside of Finland, she worked in Japan, the United States, France, Poland, Germany, Estonia, Russia, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Sweden, and Latvia.

She received a silver medal at the Prague Quadrennal in 1995 for her sets for the opera The Nightingale; the Finnish Wihuri Prize (Wihurin Säätiö) in 2002 for her costume designs for the opera Khovanshchina; Crystal Mask Prize at the Teatralnaya Vesna Festival in Russia for the set design and costumes for César Cui’s opera The Prisoner of the Caucasus (2018). The opera Miracle boy with her sets and costumes won the YAMaward for Best Opera in 2017, while The Prisoner of the Caucasus received the Onegin Award (the most important musical theatre award in Russia) in 2017.

In recognition of her artistic accomplishments,  Anna Kontek was awarded a certificate of appreciation by the then minister of foreign affairs of Poland, Krzysztof Skubiszewski (1991), Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland for promoting Polish culture in Finland (1999), Knight of the Lion of the Republic of Finland by President of the Republic of Finland (2014), and The Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (2017).

Ms Kontek has designed the sets and costumes for over 160 operas, ballets and theatre productions. Her opera credits include: Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro; Verdi’s Un ballo di maschera, Don Carlos, Rigoletto, La traviata, Il trovatore, Simon Boccanegra; Puccini’s La bohème, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, Turandot; Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunobv and Khovanshchina; Wagner’s Lohengrin; Bizet’s Carmen; Menotti’s Maria Golovin, Shostakovich’s Katerina Izmailova, Stravinsky’s The Nightingale and The Rake’s Progress; R. Strauss’s Ariadne on Naxos; Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea; Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann; Donizetti’s Anna Bolena and Lucia di Lammermoor; Rossini’s La Cenerentola and Journey to Reims; Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin; Cui’s The Prisoner of the Caucasus; Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer; Poulenc’s La voix humaine; Walton’s The Bear; Rudziński’s Mannequins; and such Finnish operas as Madetoj’s Pohjalaisia, Merikanto’s Opri ja Oleksi and Elinan surma; Aho’s Insect Life; and Tikka’s Luther.

She has worked with such directors as Marek Weiss, Dario Fo, Folke Abenius, Sakari Puurunen, Jussi Tapola, Neeme Kuningas, Jack Witikka, Leena Salonen, Toni Palmer, Michael Hampe, András Mikó, Juha Hemanus, Antti Halonen, Ville Saukkonen, Reto Nikler, Jere Erkkilä.

She has designed sets and costumes for the following classical ballets: Swan Lake (Patrice Bart after Vladimir Bourmeister), The Nutcracker (Rudolf Nurejev), The Sleeping Beauty (Rudolf Nurejev after Marius Petipa), La Bayadére (Natalia Makarova after Marius Petipa), Scheherazade and Swan Lake (Kenneth Greve), Cinderella and The Three Musketeers (Paul Chalmer), A  Midsummer Night’s Dream (Youri Vamos), Dangerous Liaisons (Krzysztof Pastor), Le Corsaire Suite (Marius Petipa), and Le Corsaire (Michel Bejar); modern ballets: The Little Prince (Elsa Sylvestersson), Die Wahlverwandschaften and Dances in the Night (Tom Schilling), Reflections from Kalevala (Heikki Värtsi), Moomin and the Comet (Anandah Kononen), Moomin and Magic Hat (Kenneth Greve); operettas: J. Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, Lehár’s The Merry Widow; musicals: They’re Playing Our Song (Marvin Hamlisch after Neil Simom), The Sound of Music (Rodgers & Hammerstein), Titanic (Maury Yeston after Peter Stone); and theatre plays: Chekhov’s Three Sisters, Dumas’s The Lady of the Camellias, Iwaszkiewicz’s Summer in Nohant, Turgenev’s A Month in the Country, Gorky’s Barbarians, Brecht’s A Respectable Wedding, Svedberg’s Camille Claudel, Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories, as well as many popular Finnish theatre plays.

What is more, she has designed sets and costumes for the Grand Choral Gala marking the 60th anniversary of the Finnish National Opera’s Chorus (directed by Jussi Tapola), Grand Choral Gala marking the 70th anniversary of the Finnish National Opera’s Chorus (Jere Erkkilä), and Finland celebrates! One Hundred Years of Independence  – Great Gala 2017 (Jere Erkkilä).

Besides numerous exhibitions around Finland, which included the Helsinki Museum of Art and Design, Finnish National Theatre, National Opera House in Helsinki, Parliament House, and Theatre Museum, her work has been shown at the International Set Design Exhibition in Warsaw, Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, International Stage and Television Design Exhibition in Tokyo, World Stage Design in Toronto, International Opera Design Exhibition at the Teatro Arriga in Bilbao, in Tallinn and Tarto.

She teaches at art collages and universities in Finland, Spain, Portugal, and Poland.