Tobias Hoheisel was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and studied theater design at the then Hochschule (now Universität) der Künste in Berlin, where he lived until moving to London in 1993.
His teachers there were Achim Freyer (set design) and Martin Rupprecht (costume design). Tobias then became, for a year, assistant to Marco Marelli, during which time he made his debut as costume designer for The Rake’s Progress in Cologne, and a year later, as set and costume designer for Salome in Rio de Janeiro. He also assisted Karl-Ernst Herrmann on two Mozart productions: Don Giovanni and La finta giardiniera at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels.
In those Berlin years major influences were the work of Peter Stein/Karl-Ernst Herrmann, Luc Bondy and Robert Wilson at the Schaubühne, as well as Ariane Mnouchkine’s Théâtre du Soleil, some of Giorgio Strehler’s productions and Patrice Chereau’s Ring Cycle in Bayreuth. In Berlin, home of one of the world’s finest orchestras, Tobias found a wealth of orchestral and chamber music, which became a life-long passion.
Kát’a Kabanová was his Glyndebourne/UK debut, followed by Jenůfa, Death in Venice, The Makropulos Case, The Bartered Bride and many productions for almost all major British opera and theater companies (ENO, ROH, WNO, Opera North, Scottish Opera, RNT, RSC, Almeida, Royal Court). The production of The Makropulos Case is the only Glyndebourne production ever to have crossed the Atlantic, when it was staged at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and subsequently in Hamburg, Barcelona, Berlin and Lyon. Hans Werner Henze’s Boulevard Solitude, with Tobias’ sets and costumes for the Royal Opera, was awarded the 2001 Laurence Olivier Award for best opera production, and the same company’s production of Pfitzner’s Palestrina was taken on tour when they visited New York’s Met to give the first ever performance of this opera in the United States.
He designed the world premiere of P. Handke’s The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other at the Burgtheather in Vienna as well as the German premiere of Y. Reza’s Art at the Schaubuehene in Berlin (1995), a production that is still in repertoire. He was the first German designer for the RSC (Julius Caesar, Richard III) and the production of Ivanov he designed for the Almeida Theatre, with Ralph Fiennes in the title role, was invited to the Artist’s Theatre in Moscow.
Tobias has recently been working freelance in the UK, Europe and the United States for companies including: English National Opera, Scottish Opera, Royal National Theatre, Wiener Staatsoper, Burgtheater, Staastoper unter den Linden, Deutsche Oper, Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz, Oper Köln, Nationale Reisopera, Opéra National de Paris, Gran Teatro Liceu, Teatro alla Scala, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera and New York City Opera.
Apart from the Glyndebourne Festival he has worked for the festivals in Drottningholm, Graz, Wien, München, Glimmerglass, Firenze and Santa Fe. At the Edinburgh International Festival (2008) Tobias designed, and together with the German actress Imogen Kogge, directed Smetana’s Two Widows (which has been awarded a ‘Herald Angel’), combining these disciplines has been a welcome addition to his work. Since 2002, he has been directing/designing a number of productions, the latest having been Anna Bolena for Oper Köln.
Future projects include Don Carlo for the Bolshoi Theatre (Moscow) and the world premiere of an opera by Giorgio Battistelli for Opéra National Lorraine (Nancy).