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 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 Fiorentino, 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, London’s Sadler’s Wells, Lyric Hammersmith and the Almeida Islington. Closer to Amsterdam Het Nationale Ballet Amsterdam, Scapino Ballet Rotterdam, Nationale Reisopera, the Brussels theatre company Le Rideau de Bruxelles and the Koninlijk Ballet van Vlaanderen (Royal Ballet of Flanders).
For David Dawson he has designed The Disappeared for the Semperoper Ballett in Dresden, A Sweet Spell of Oblivion for the Royal Ballet of Flanders in Antwerp, and most recently The Third Light to celebrate 40thanniversary of the Royal Ballet of Flanders in Antwerp and dancingmadlybackwards for the Norwegian National Ballet in Oslo, as well as A Sweet Spell of Oblivion for the Semperoper Ballet Dresden.