Obituary: Metropolitan Opera Lighting Designer Gil Wechsler Dies, Aged 79

By Logan Martell

On July 9, 2021, longtime opera lighting designer Gil Wechsler passed away at the age of 79.

Born in Brooklyn on Feb. 5, 1942, Wechsler discovered his love for theatre as a child at summer camp. He would go on to graduate with a degree in theatre in 1964 and receive his Master’s in Fine Arts from Yale. The following year he got his first Broadway credit as a lighting designer on Charles Dyer’s play “Staircase.” Wechsler designed for shows with the Stratford Festival in Ontario, the Harkness Ballet, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, before arriving at the Metropolitan Opera.

Joining the Met in 1977, he was the first to serve as Resident Lighting Designer with the company, working on 112 productions over the next 20 years, with directors and designers such as Otto Schenk, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, and David Hockney, among others.

“The company had a nickname for Gil: Prince of Darkness,” said Joseph Volpe, “because of course, Gil understood that it is important that you do not flood the whole scene with light.”

Wechsler is survived by his brother Norman and his husband, artist Douglas Sardo.