John Bury, the British scenic designer whose career began in England in the 1950s and continued internationally into the 1990s, died Nov. 12 in Gloucestershire, England, The New York Times reported.
The cause of death was pneumonia brought on by heart disease, the paper reported. Mr. Bury was 75.
He was a collaborator with the director Peter Hall for many years, first working with him at the Royal Shakespeare Company 1962-68 (memorably, designing Shakespeare's "War of the Roses" cycle and Harold Pinter's The Homecoming) and later at the Royal National Theatre (1973-1985), where he was head of design. One of Hall and Mr. Bury's stunning achievements was Amadeus, which started at the National and found success on Broadway in 1980-81.
The Amadeus lighting and set designs by Mr. Bury were opulent when they had to be, yet fluid, small, intimate and shadowy at other times. The scenic and theatrical flourishes in the original Amadeus created the appearance that the show was a kind of spectacle, but it wasn't, and critics cheered Bury's clever illusions. He won two Tony Awards for Amadeus in 1981. He did not design the recent Broadway revival.
In the 1980s, Mr. Bury designed for opera around the world — with Peter Hall often at the helm — at San Francisco Opera, Glyndebourne Opera, Royal Opera House, Washington Opera and elsewhere. His New York credits over the years included The Physicists, The Rothschilds, Hedda Gabler, A Doll's House, Old Times, Betrayal, Via Galactica and No Man's Land. His 1981 Playbill biography states that his "career began" in 1946 with Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop in England, where he designed 30 productions, including A Taste of Honey, Brendan Behan's The Quare Fellow, Lionel Bart's Fings Ain't Wot They Used T' Be, and Oh What a Lovely War!
Failing health slowed the designer down in recent years. At the time of his death, he was said to be working on a staging of A Midsummer Night's Dream with Hall.
— By Kenneth Jones