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Stefanos Lazaridis was one of Britain’s leading theatre designers. His international career spanned 40 years and he was a key figure in the so-called ‘Power House regime’ at English National Opera that revolutionised the way opera was presented to British audiences in the 1980s and ’90s.

Born in Ethiopia of Greek descent, Lazaridis took a conceptual, distinctly Continental approach to opera design, with work that could be playful and quirky or monumental and impressive. He collaborated with some of the most influential creative figures of his day: discovered by the renowned director John Copley (with whom he fell out in spectacular but not untypical fashion), Lazaridis went on to design productions for the likes of David Pountney, Graham Vick, Jonathan Miller and Keith Warner.

Some of his most spectacular work was produced on the floating stage on Lake Constance at the Bregenz Festival in Austria, where he pushed the boundaries of scale and complexity in the world of theatre design, creating gigantic sets that fired the imagination of audiences as powerfully as the music and the singing.

The current 2012/13 opera season sees revivals of some of Lazaridis’ most celebrated stage designs, including Wagner’s Ring and Berg’s Wozzeck at the Royal Opera House, together with Jonathan Miller’s much-loved Palm Court production of Sullivan’s The Mikado at English National Opera.

Lazaridis, who died in 2010, aged 67, has left a legacy of opera productions that combine intellectual rigour with commercial acumen. Most of these are well represented in this lavishly illustrated new book. There are also informative essays and personal recollections by close friends and colleagues in the opera world, including influential figures such as Sir Peter Jonas, David Pountney and Nicholas Payne. All this makes for a fitting tribute to a brilliant and sometimes controversial talent who brought a fresh, unique vision to the role of the designer in opera.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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