Queer Places:
861 Forest Ave, South Bend, Indiana
Art Students League of New York, 215 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019
Harvard University (Ivy League), 2 Kirkland St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Robert Raymond O'Hearn (July 19, 1921 – May 26, 2016) was an American set designer. Though known for his productions of theatre and ballet, he was particularly associated with opera. He designed productions for the Metropolitan Opera from 1960 through 1985. The work of Broadway's gay and lesbian artistic community went on display in 2007 when the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation Gallery presents "StageStruck: The Magic of Theatre Design." The exhibit was conceived to highlight the achievements of gay and lesbian designers who work in conjunction with fellow gay and lesbian playwrights, directors, choreographers and composers. Original sketches, props, set pieces and models — some from private collections — represent the work of over 60 designers, including Robert O’Hearn.

Robert Raymond O’Hearn Jr. was born in Elkhart, Ind., on July 19, 1921, to Robert Raymond Sr. and Ella May (Stoldt) O’Hearn. He earned his B.A. from Indiana University in 1943 and later studied at the Art Students League of New York. From 1948 through 1952 he worked at the Brattle Theatre at Harvard University, designing numerous productions. (His work is now part of the Harvard University Theatre Collection.) Having made his Broadway theatre debut in 1950 doing the set and costume design for The Releapse by John Vanbrugh, O'Hearn began working regularly on Broadway in 1953 beginning with a production of Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost.[1] O'Hearn made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1960 with a production of Gaetano Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore, notable for the unique conceit of having Dr. Dulcamara enter by a descending balloon.[2][3] O'Hearn designed 13 productions for the Met, usually working in conjunction with stage director Nathaniel Merrill.[1] In addition to working on Broadway and at the Met, O'Hearn designed productions for The New York City Opera, New York Shakespeare Festival, New York City Center Theater, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Boston Opera Company, Chicago Lyric Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Ballet West, Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, and the San Francisco Ballet. He designed a production of Der Rosenkavalier for the Canadian Opera Company.[1] In Europe O'Hearn designed productions for the Vienna Volksoper, Bregenzer Festspiele, Hamburg State Opera, as well as productions in Strasbourg, and Karlsruhe.[1]

Before joining the Jacobs School of Music faculty, O’Hearn served as professor at the New York Studio and Forum of Stage Design from 1968 to 1988. He also gave guest lectures and classes at Carnegie Mellon University, Brandeis University and Penn State University. In his 20 years at the Jacobs School, he created more than 30 opera and 14 ballet designs for IU Opera and Ballet Theater, many of which remain in current rotation. His designs include “Peter Grimes,” “Eugene Onegin,” “Wozzeck,” “Falstaff,” “Carmen,” “Ariadne auf Naxos,” “Arabella,” “Manon” and “Le Nozze di Figaro,” among others. In 2005, O’Hearn received the Robert L. B. Tobin Award for lifetime achievement in theatrical design. His sets and designs continue to be used throughout the country today.

He died in Bloomington, Indiana on May 26, 2016.[5]

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