Norway’s Parliament president in battle for Phantom musical fortune

Norway’s Parliament president in battle for Phantom musical fortune


norman lebrecht

March 29, 2015

The president of Norway’s parliament, Olemic Thommessen, has attacked banking secrecy in the Channel Islands and the British courts after failing to gain access to a trust fund he set up for his cousin, the brilliant theatre designer, Maria Bjornson.

maria bjornson


Maria, who died in London in 2002 leaving no immediate heirs, created sets and costumes for 126 productions, most resoundingly for Phantom of the Opera.

The fund is said to be worth £22 million.

Thommessen told an Oslo newspaper: ‘The whole English legal system is packed in all sorts of firewalls, where discretion and anonymity make it almost impossible to get access to cases that directly concern you.’

Full story here.



  • Nick says:

    Maria was a brilliant designer and her early death a tragedy for the profession. Her early work at Glasgow’s Citizen’s Theatre was an early illustration of her outstanding talent. This was soon to blossom with the amazing Janacek cycle for the Scottish and Welsh National Operas, and an outstanding Meistersinger for Scottish Opera.

    That her name is now tarnished with scheming by relatives after her estate is very sad. Yet this was almost bound to happen given the income continuing to accrue to the Trust from Phantom and her having left no last will and testament. Hopefully others will realise it’s never too early to draft such a document.