Boris Kudlicka studied set design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava and the Academy of Fine Arts in Groningen, the Netherlands. In 1995 he began working for the Polish National Opera, Warsaw, first as assistant to Andrzej Kreutz Majewski, then chief set designer. It was at that point that he started to develop his original style, characteristic for minimalism, use of materials not typically employed in theatre design and means of expression drawing from plastic arts, cinematography, visual arts and design. His sets are unconventional, built on contrasts and open to various interpretations.
Starting in 1999, he began his collaboration with Mariusz Treliński, which has produced more than a dozen opera productions, including Madama Butterfly, King Roger, Otello, Don Giovanni, Onegin, The Queen of Spades, Andrea Chénier, La bohème, Orfeo ed Euridice, Boris Godunov, Iolanta, The Bluebeard’s Castle, Aleko, La traviata, Turandot, The Flying Dutchman, Salome, Powder Her Face, Tristan and Isolde, Die tote Stadt, The Fiery Angel, Halka, and Cardillac.
He has devised set designs for the world’s leading opera houses and festivals, including the Metropolitan Opera, New York; Royal Opera House, London; Festival d’Aix-en-Provence; Théatre Royal de la Monnaie, Brussels; Staatsoper Berlin; Washington Opera; Los Angeles Opera; Welsh National Opera, Cardiff; Theater an der Wien; Tokyo Bunka Kaikan; Opera du Rhin, Strasbourg; Semperoper Dresden; San Francisco Opera; Oper Frankfurt; Royal Swedish Opera, Stockholm; Royal Danish Opera, Copenhagen; Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg; or Festspielhaus Baden-Baden.
He may boast successful collaborations with a number of world-famous opera directors. For Keith Warner he designed sets for Death in Venice, Aribert Reimann’s King Lear and Thomas Adés’s The Tempest (Frankfurt), Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra (Strasbourg), Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Krzysztof Penderecki’s Devils of Loudun (Polish National Opera, Warsaw), and Otello (Royal Opera House, London). He worked with Amon Minamoto on the productions of Mishima’s The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (Kanagawa Arts Center, Yokohama; Lincoln Festival, New York), Mozart’s The Magic Flute (Landestheater Linz; Tokyo Bunka Kaikan), Mayuzumi’s Kinkakuji (Opéra National du Rhin; Tokyo Bunka Kaikan), and Madama Buttrfly (Tokyo Nikikai Opera). For Dale Duising he developed sets for Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims, Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann, Cherubini’s Medea, St. John Passion, Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, and Chabrier’s L’étoile (Staatsoper Berlin).
His creative interests go beyond opera. A big part of his work are exhibition designs and architectural projects. He co-designed Polish pavilions for the Expos in Hannover (2000) and Shanghai (2010), and designed two major exhibitions for the National Museum in Warsaw: Guercino. The Triumph of Baroque Masterpieces from Cento, Rome and Polish Collections and Brescia. Renaissance in Northern Italy. Moretto-Savoldo-Moroni. Rafael-Tycjan-Lotto. He developed a new interior design for Hotel Europejski and the Belvedere restaurant in Warsaw, as well as private investments. His latest project, Boris Kudlička and Partners, focuses on architecture and interior design (architecture, renovation, hotel industry) in Poland, Switzerland, Qatar, and Malta.
Boris Kudlička’s has received a number of prizes and awards for his work. In 2005 the Theatre Institute, Warsaw awarded his scenography for Richard II (National Theatre, Warsaw). In 2015 he received the Silver Gloria Artis Medal for Services to culture from the Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage. He has twice received the Dosky Slovak theatre award. He won two gold medals at the Prague Quadrennial (2007, 2015) and served as the Quadrennial’s curator in 2011. He is the recipient of a Culture.pl Superbrand (2016, together with Mariusz Treliński), Mazowsze Voivode C. K. Norwid Award (2003, 2016) and TVP Kultura Gwarancja Kultury Award (with Mariusz Treliński, 2015).
Between 2011 and 2013 Boris Kudlička taught set design at the Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw. In 2019 he directed staged Carmina Burana at the Wielki in Warsaw.
(photo: Jarosław Mazurek)