Maria Bjørnson

I have just been alerted to the fact that the entry that I was asked to write about Maria Bjørnson, the great opera designer, responsible for Phantom of the Opera and much else, has just been posted online on the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography website (you need a library membership to access it).   I found it an odd and moving experience writing about someone who was a near contemporary, born in 1949, but died far too early of an epileptic fit in her bath aged 53.   Reading it again, there is rather too much about her parentage (her great grandfather had won the Nobel Prize for Literature) and nothing whatever about what I remember best about her, including early morning exercise classes in a basement in Covent Garden and a bus trip across the Appenines to Faenza.   But these are the conventions of official biography.

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