Robert Thomson

Robert Thomson, Lighting Designer

Pacific Opera Victoria
The Marriage of Figaro

April / May, 2014


Robert Thomson made his Pacific Opera debut in 2001 designing Nabucco. He subsequently created designs for POV's productions of Wozzeck (2003), Manon Lescaut (2006), and Idomeneo (2007). He returns in 2014 to design The Marriage of Figaro.

Mr. Thomson is widely recognized as one of Canada's most prolific and versatile lighting designers for theatre, opera and dance.

Over twelve consecutive seasons at the Stratford Festival, his numerous collaborators include directors Jonathan Miller, Jennifer Tarver, Peter Hinton, Christopher Newton, Richard Monet, Des McAnuff and Antoni Cimolino. His designs for 28 productions include The Merchant of Venice, Cymbeline, Much Ado About Nothing, The Homecoming, Dangerous Liaisons, Krapp's Last Tape, Hughie, Romeo and Juliet, Caesar and Cleopatra, Into the Woods, and King Lear. Next season he is designing Beaux' Stratagem on the Festival Stage.

Mr. Thomson served as Resident Lighting Designer for The National Ballet of Canada for twelve seasons. His company projects with choreographer James Kudelka include Swan Lake, Desir, Spring Awakening, and Washington Square. His numerous other company designs include The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, Manon, and Don Quixote.

He designed more than 55 productions for the Shaw Festival over twenty-five seasons. His credits include a ten-year term as Head of Lighting Design, Picnic, St. Joan, Man and Superman, Lulu, Pygmalion, Cavalcade, Peter Pan, and Cyrano de Bergerac.

Mr. Thomson trained at The Studio and Forum of Stage Design in NYC, and has taught at Sheridan College, Ryerson University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the National Theatre School of Canada. He began his professional career in the late 70's at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto working extensively with founding Artistic Director, Bill Glassco.

Since then he has worked with a diverse range of Canadian companies, including the National Arts Centre, Canadian Stage, Canadian Opera Company, Citadel Theatre, Calgary Opera, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Charlottetown Festival, L'Opéra de Montréal, Theatre Calgary, Globe Theatre, Tapestry Opera,.and Montreal's Centaur Theatre and Segal Centre.

Internationally, his designs have been featured at Lincoln Center Theater, the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago's Goodman Theatre, Hartford Stage, American Ballet Theatre, Seattle Opera, San Francisco Ballet, and Stuttgart Ballet.

His acclaimed designs have garnered a Sterling Award for Edmonton Opera's mounting of the globally acclaimed Bluebeard's Castle and Erwartung, directed by Robert Lepage; four Dora Mavor Moore Awards. He was recently presented with the prestigious Siminovitch Prize in Theatre for 2012.

He is a member of Associated Designers of Canada and and L'Association des professionnels des arts de la scène du Québec.

Designer Leslie Frankish supplies a lunatic landscape seen through a glass – or in this case a scrim - darkly, lit in shifting shades of colour that run from ash grey to blood red by the brilliant lighting design of Robert Thomson.
CBC Radio, review of Pacific Opera Victoria's Wozzeck

Robert Thomson's lighting for both operas was brilliant. In Bluebeard's Castle light spilled out of the doors that Judith opened and flood the wall on the opposite side of the stage with evocative colors. In both operas, an extended wall took on different textures and meanings because of the facile lighting. Also, the gigantic picture frame, which provided a border for both operas, changed color in ways that enhanced the story telling. In Bluebeard's Castle the color changed impressively from bright gold to a tarnished version of gold.
James Bash, review of Bluebeard's Castle and Erwartung, Seattle Opera

His work as a lighting designer is mesmerizing. It is sensitive, fresh, bold, and visceral. He deftly conducts the visual experience with focus and clarity, suggesting, never dictating, ways of seeing moment to moment. He delves deep, insisting on getting at the very core of the work. He helps tell the story and then enhances it with the visual poetry of his lighting.
Maureen Labonté, Chair, 2012 Siminovitch Prize Jury

April, 2014