John Otto was born in New Zealand where he studied industrial design.
He was design assistant to the New Zealand Opera and Ballet Companies and also the Australian Opera at the Sydney Opera House.
Awarded a scholarship to study in London at the Motley Theatre Design Course under Margaret Harris, he made his design debut with Darius Milhaud’s Les Malheurs d’Orphée for the Netherlands Opera in Amsterdam, where he is resident.
He has since designed for many opera, theatre and dance companies as diverse as the Maggio Musicale Florence, Theater Wielki Warsaw, Vancouver Opera, Athens Festival, Holland Festival, Wexford Festival, Aldeburgh Festival, Staatsoper Hannover, Semperoper Dresden and various other opera houses in Germany.
In England: Crucible Theatre Sheffield, Sadler’s Wells and Lyric Hammersmith London and the Almeida Theatre Islington. Closer to Amsterdam: Dutch National Ballet, Scapino Ballet Rotterdam, Nationale Reisopera, the Brussels theatre company Le Rideau de Bruxelles and the Royal Ballet of Flanders Antwerp.
Designs for David Dawson include The Disappeared and The World According to Us for Semperoper Ballet Dresden, Sweet Spell of Oblivion and The Third Light for Royal Ballet of Flanders Antwerp, dancingmadlybackwards Norwegian National Ballet, Empire Noir Dutch National Ballet and Swan Lake for Scottish Ballet.