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Rouben Ter-Arutunian was born in Tiflis, Russia, of Armenian parentage. He studied music, art, and philosophy in Berlin and Vienna, and was apprenticed in painting at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris prior to his arrival in America in 1951, where he now lives in New York. His prominent assignments have been Brecht’s Arturo Ui, Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea, Albee’s All Over and The Lady from Dubuque on Broadway; the environmental stage and several plays at The American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut; Debussy’s Peleas et Melisande at the Spoleto Festival and La Scala, Milan, and The Duchess of Malfi, at Hamburg’s Schauspielhaus; and the production design for the film The Loved One. He has designed ballets for Gerald Arpino, Todd Bolender, John Butler, Alexandra Danilova, Eliot Feld, Martha Graham, Robert Joffrey, Dennis Nahat, Rudolf Nureyev, Jerome Robbins, John Taras, Paul Taylor, and Glen Tetley. Among numerous ballets designed during his twenty-five year association with George Balanchine, Lincoln Kirstein, and New York City Ballet are The Seven Deadly Sins, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Harlequinade, Ballet Imperial, Coppélia, Union Jack, Vienna Waltzes, and Robert Schumann’s Davidsbundlertanze. For American Ballet Theatre he has designed sets and costumes for Francesca da Rimini, the pas de deux Medea, Pas de Duke, and Ricercare; Pierrot Lunaire, Sargasso, Some Times, Sphinx (scenery), and Voluntaries. He has designed for world premiere works by Albee, Barber, Henze, Menotti and Stravinsky. He has received the Antoinette Perry Award, television’s Emmy Award, The Outer Circle Critics Award; and his works are represented in The Museum of Modern Art, the Library and Museum of the Performing Arts in New York, and The Theatre Collection of Harvard University.
He has been profiled on National Educational Television’s Skyline: Rouben Ter-Arutunian — The Art of Stage Design.