The outstanding South African opera stage designer Johan Engels has died in Bath of a heart attack, aged 62. He worked closely with David Pountney at Bregenz Festival and with Anthony Freud at Houston Grand Opera and Chicago Lyric, notably on Weinberg’s opera, The Passenger.
Anthony Freud, general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, has issued the following statement:
‘We are shocked and deeply saddened at the tragic passing of Johan Engels. We mourn with the rest of the international performing arts community, which has lost one of its brightest lights, and send our sincerest sympathies to his family.
‘Johan was an incredible artist who made a tremendous impact at Lyric in just a few short seasons. His designs for last season’s Parsifal took our breath away. His complete commitment to Weinberg’s The Passenger, which will have its Chicago premiere in February, helped bring that work to vivid life. We will dedicate our upcoming performances of this work to his memory.
‘Johan recently completed the set designs for our upcoming Ring cycle. Despite this devastating loss, our plans to produce Wagner’s Ring cycle, starting in the 2016-17 season, remain in place.’