Olaf Freese was born in 1968 in Berlin. After his technical training, he worked with the Berliner Ensemble and at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg, before becoming head of the lighting departments of the Hanover State Theatre (2000-2003), the Deutsches Theater Berlin (2003-2007) and the Berlin State Opera (2007-2020).
Since 1992 he has worked as a lighting designer at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg, the Residenztheater in Munich, the Burgtheater in Vienna, the Staatsoper and Schauspiel in Hannover, the Staatsoper in Hamburg, the Staatsopers in Vienna and Munich, the Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, La Scala, Milan, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and the New National Theatre in Tokyo. He is a regular guest artist at the Salzburg Festival.
Olaf Freese was recently the lighting designer in productions by Claus Guth, Jossi Wieler, Lydia Steier, Wim Wenders, Andre Heller and Johannes Erath. In 2016, he designed the lighting for Lydia Steier’s production of Stockhausen’s Donnerstag aus Licht at Theater Basel, which was voted Performance of the Year by the critics in the magazine Opernwelt (Season 2015/16). The same year, he worked on Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg directed by Stefan Herheim and staged at the Paris Opera.
He also worked on Violetter Schnee staged by Claus Guth in 2019 in Berlin, whose set by Étienne Pluss was awarded the FAUST-Theater prize. His work on Salomé at the Bolshoi Theatre was nominated for the 2021 Golden Mask in the Lighting Design category.
Olaf Freese teaches lighting design at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts and the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg
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