Kristian Fredrikson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Kristian Fredrikson
Born Kristian Adrian Sams
Died 10 November 2005
Nationality  New Zealand

Kristian Fredrikson (1940 – 10 November 2005) was a New Zealand-born Australian stage and costume designer working in ballet, opera and other performing arts. His work was acclaimed for its sumptuous, jewel-like quality, and a sensuous level of detail.


Fredrikson was born in Wellington as Kristian Adrian Sams, the son of Fredrik Sams, a Danish merchant seaman. His mother, an Englishwoman, was born Iris Pointon.[1] He began his career as a newspaper critic and journalist before studying art. His first stage design was for The Wintergarden in 1963. He had a long association with the Royal New Zealand Ballet, the Australian Ballet and Opera Australia. He designed operas including Lucrezia Borgia for productions starring Dame Joan Sutherland. He also worked on the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics opening ceremony.

In 2005 he realised a long-held ambition to design all three of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballets. He designed The Nutcracker for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Swan Lake for the Houston Ballet, and The Sleeping Beauty for the Australian Ballet. This last work was the Australian Ballet's largest ever production, requiring 300 costumes and four major sets, and was still touring at the time of Fredrikson's death.

Once a heavy smoker, Fredrikson's lungs were weakened by emphysema. He died of lung failure, at about age 65, following complications from pneumonia.


An intensely private, solitary figure, Fredrickson spent the last years living alone in a small dark flat in Kings Cross, Sydney. He felt he had been a 'goth' long before they were fashionable. As a child, he and his mother had been physically attacked in Christchurch for being Catholic in a Protestant area, and the experience had contributed to his feelings of alienation from mainstream society.

His aesthetic sense was cultivated at school by two nuns. The mother superior gave him, he said, a "sexy, sensual, erotic, decadent book about the pleasure of the flesh, the pleasure of colour, of jewels, of life. She gave it all to me and said 'You can read that, but don't tell anyone."[1]

Fredrikson said his art work had "grown out of my most private sexual being. Translated, I suppose that means that's how I ran into Tchaikovsky."[2] His deep love for the music of Tchaikovsky coloured his life. Dame Peggy van Praagh, who commissioned his first design for the Australian Ballet, told him he had to spend a weekend with an older male designer who lived in Sydney's Blue Mountains. Fredrikson said she told him: "The first thing is, he'll throw you on the carpet and rape you." He did, and Fredrikson believed it was "all part of the deal. It seemed to be like part of the Mephistophelean code. That's what you do."[3]


^ 1,2,3: Sydney Morning Herald, 19 November 2005: Kristian Fredrikson, Designer, 1940–2005


  1. ^ Sydney Morning Herald Obituary

External links[edit]