Opera Scotland

Peter Rice Suggest updates

Peter Anthony Morrish Rice

Born Simla, India, 13 September 1928.

Died Oxfordshire, 24 December 2015.

English theatre and opera designer.

Peter Rice trained initially as an engineer, as his father had been, but changed direction after completing his degree. He then studied as a painter in London at the Royal College of Art. In a long career he designed plays, musicals and ballets as well as operas.

His first operatic production design was for The Seraglio at Sadler's Wells in 1952. Subsequent projects for that company included Cinderella, Merrie England, Ariadne on Naxos, The Mikado, Count Ory, The Thieving Magpie and The Violins of Saint-Jacques. In 1979 he collaborated with Anthony Besch on the ENO /New Opera Company co-production of Shostakovich's The Nose (British premiere).

The designs for Busoni's Arlecchino at Glyndebourne were brought to the Edinburgh Festival in 1960, and the English Opera Group brought Birtwistle's Punch and Judy in 1968. His only opera production at Covent Garden was for Rudolf Hartmann's very elegant and long-lasting staging of Arabella (1965), conducted by Georg Solti, with a cast led by Lisa Della Casa and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

He worked frequently outside the UK, two notable examples being his designs for Otello in Pretoria and for Death in Venice in Brussels.

He designed a number of productions for Scottish Opera in its first two decades, in collaboration with Peter Ebert or Anthony Besch. These included The Seraglio, L'Heure Espagnole, Faust, Falstaff, La Bohème, Don Pasquale, Ariadne on Naxos, Simon Boccanegra and Tosca (the last of which stayed on the active list for over thirty years). Other work in Scotland included the designs for several pantomimes at the major theatres. He also designed a redecoration scheme for the interior of His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen.

Theatre design also provided much of his work, and close relationships developed with the Chichester Festival and with Greenwich Theatre. He taught for many years at the Royal College of Art.

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