Sven Ortel grew up in Cologne, Germany, where he after high school lit small-scale theatre shows, complemented with lighting for movies, advertisements, and music videos. His subsequent studies of theatrical lighting design in London led him to develop a keen interest in digital technologies and their potential for the live arts.
In 2001, he joined Dick Straker and his company mesmer to explore and further the use of imagery and projection in the live arts. For the National Theatre, London, mesmer provided realization and design services for over 20 productions and established a video department which introduced technologies and techniques that have become de-facto standard today. Together with Straker, Ortel also conceived the video system and process that realized the technologically groundbreaking musical The Woman in White in the West End and Broadway in 2004.
In the last 11 years, Ortel's work has been seen all over the world. His range of collaborators comprises some of the most established and celebrated artists including directors Michael Blakemore, Matthias Hartman, Jonathan Kent, Simon McBurney, Trevor Nunn, Deborah Warner, David Leveaux, Gregory Boyd, Bart Sher, and Francesca Zambello to choreographer Helgi Tomasson, conductor Valery Gergiev, and set designer George Tsypin.
Recent projects include Complicite’s A Disappearing Number, directed by Simon Mcburney at LCF 2010 and 2010 World Tour; Swan Lake for San Francisco Ballet; the re-staging of the Kirov Ring Cycle under maestro Valerie Gergiev in St.Petersburg, Russia and the Royal Opera House; the musical Rebecca in Switzerland and Germany; Newsies at the Papermill Playhouse and Broadway; and the Off Broadway production of Carrie. Broadway design credits include Jumpers, Faith Healer, Deuce, The Little Mermaid, Woman On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown, and Wonderland.
Current projects include a new project in collaboration with Da Camera of Houston and Houston Grand Opera, the new Broadway-bound production of Jekyll and Hyde, and the American production of Rebecca on Broadway.
In 2009, Ortel immigrated to the USA and lives happily in Brooklyn, NY. He loves to cycle around the city and running around the Brooklyn waterfront and Prospect Park.