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Wolfgang Roth was an internationally known set designer. Born in Berlin, he worked with Erwin Piscator and Bertolt Brecht in theater and opera. Roth emigrated to New York in 1938. He designed sets for dozens of Broadway and off-Broadway plays, musicals, and opera productions, including the 1952 world-wide tour of Porgy and Bess. He created The Littlest Circus, a dance-pantomime, which toured the United States for seven years, was featured on Broadway, and produced for television by CBS. His designs were influenced by his training in the underground theater during Nazi Germany, as well as the political artists of the day, and the Bauhaus School. As an artist, Roth's paintings, drawings, collages, and sculpture often portray theatrical themes, especially the circus.

The multi-talented Roth was also a singer and guitarist; his performing career began in the cabaret in Berlin in the 1930s, and he later recorded two albums of German folk songs and ballads.

An exhibition featuring some of Roth's set designs, paintings, and works on paper was held at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, PA in 2006.

Education & Community

Education and Training
School of Arts and Crafts, Berlin, Germany, 1926
Academy of Art, Berlin, Germany, 1927
Painting apprentice to Rudi Pieroth and Bertolt Brecht
Assistant and apprentice to Erwin Piscator, German theater producer, Piscator's Studio, Berlin, Germany, 1929
Apprentice as house painter, decorative painter, and theatrical designer

Teachers and Influences
Cesar Klein at the Academy of Art, Berlin

Exhibitions & Collections

Major Solo Exhibitions
Charles Fourth Gallery, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1957
Farnsworth Museum, Rockland, Maine, 1957
Taft Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1959
Goethe House, New York, New York, 1973, 1980
Gallery of the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center, New York, New York, 1975
Palazzo Delle Stelline, Milan, Italy, 1979
Wolfgang Roth: The Art of the Theater
, Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 2006

Major Group Exhibitions
Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio, 1947
Berlin Theater Festival, Berlin, Germany, 1951
Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1952
Paris International Theater Festival, Paris, France, 1955
Academie Der Kunste, former West-Berlin, Germany, 1971
Gallerie Bettina, Zurich, Switzerland, 1979,1980
American Theatre Wing, New York, New York
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Theatrical Exhibit, Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York

Major Collections
Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York
Museum of the City of New York, New York, New York
Taft Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio
Theater Collection, University of Wisconsin, Wisconsin
Watson Collection, New York, New York


Wolfgang Roth, It All Depends On The Lightning, Autobiography, New York, 1977

Roth wrote and created The Littlest Circus, 1959, a dance-pantomime that toured the United States for seven years, played on Broadway, and was filmed for television by CBS as their first production for children.

Theater Performances
Many Broadway shows, including Porgy and Bess, 1952
, Berlin Theatre Festival, 1951
Porgy and Bess
, 1952-1956
, Paris Theatre Festival, 1955
The Littlest Circus
, Touring Production, 1956-1963
Brecht On Brecht
, London, Los Angeles, 1962-1963

Opera Work
The Old Man And The Thief
, Vienna, Austria, 1952
Don Pasquale
, Metropolitan Opera, New York, New York, 1955
School for Wives
, New York City Opera Company, New York, New York, 1956
La Traviata,
Boston Opera Company, Boston, Massachusetts, 1960-1961
Fanciulla Del West
, Metropolitan Opera, New York, New York, 1961
The Three Penny Opera
, New York City Opera Company, New York, New York, 1965
Washington, D.C. Opera Society, Washington, D.C., 1962
Danton's Death
, New York City Opera Company, New York, New York, 1966
Tristan Und Isolde
, Metropolitan Opera, New York, New York, 1969
, Zurich, Switzerland, 1979

Dance Performances

Billy Sunday
, 1945
The Red Poppy
, 1948

Big Hit Records
Recorded two albums of German folk songs for Folkways Records

Awards & Appointments

Teaching and Professional Appointments
Set and Costume Designer, Corso Theatre, Zurich, Switzerland, 1934-1938
Chief Designer and Technical Director, Cincinnati and Vancouver Theatre and Opera Festivals, 1950s, 1960s
Instructor of Design, New York University School of the Arts, 1967-1980s

Affiliations and Memberships
Association of Revolutionary Visual Artists, pre-World War II, Berlin
Actor's Equity Association
United Scenic Artists

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