David Finn's professional career as a lighting designer began at the age of 16, working for the puppeteer Burr Tillstrom and KUKLA, FRAN & OLLIE.
David assisted lighting designer Jennifer Tipton beginning in 1988 with Jerome Robbins’ Broadway and worked with her on productions by Mike Nichols, Robert Wilson, Agnes de Mille and Paul Taylor. He recreated Ms. Tipton's lighting for Jerome Robbins' and Twyla Tharp's ballets throughout the world. David designed the lighting for Grand Pas, Sextet, The Men’s Piece and Octet for Ms. Tharp.
As resident lighting designer for Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project from 1993-2000, David designed works for acclaimed choreographers Merce Cunningham, Hanya Holm, Jose Limon, Dana Reitz, Tamasaburo Bando and Karole Armitage. Additional work for dance includes Cinderella (Birmingham Royal Ballet), The Nutcracker (Birmingham and The Australian Ballet), Swan Lake (Bayerisches Staatsballett), and works for Paul Taylor, James Kudelka, Helgi Tomasson, Liam Scarlett and Ashley Page.
Since 1997, David's career shifted to the world of opera, where he designed the Ring Cycle for The Canadian Opera Company; Parsifal at The Metropolitan Opera; six productions for the famed Salzburg Festival, including Ariadne auf Naxos; Boris Godunov, Lucia Silla, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, The Marriage of Figaro and Hansel & Gretel for the Dutch National Opera (Amsterdam); Bluebeard’s Castle/Erwartung, Tannhauser, The Flying Dutchman, and Peter Grimes for The Royal Opera; Ariane et Barbe-Bleu for The Paris Opera; Rusalka for the Lyric Opera of Chicago; Rheingold, The Tales of Hoffman and Monteverdi’s Orfeo for The Stuttgart Opera; Otello for Opera de la Monnaie (Brussels); Tannhauser for the Berliner Staatsoper; The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni for Opera Australia; Falstaff for Maggio Musicale (Florence); Massacre, a world premiere for the Vienna Festwochen; Lost Highway, an operatic transposition of David Lynch’s film for Steirischerherbst (Graz); and Alcina, Doktor Faust and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk for The San Francisco Opera.
Much of David’s work is for ground-breaking inter-disciplinary work including: the dance-operas Les L’armes du Ciel for the Luzerner Theater (Switzerland); La Guerra d’Amore (Lausanne, San Francisco); dance-theater works Senza Fine & The Day I go to the Body –The Salzburg Festival; and Berlioz’s Romeo & Juliette for Sasha Waltz (Paris Opera Ballet, Milan, Berlin, Amsterdam).
Lighting design for the theater includes: Atomic, an off-broadway musical; The Hunting Gun (Montreal, Tokyo); Angst - Salzburg Festival; A Doll’s House - ACT (San Francisco); Elektra and The Nerve Meter - Burgtheater (Vienna); The National Theater of Czechoslovakia’s production of King Lear; The Pirates of Penzance for Teater des Westens - Berlin; four musicals for Robert Redford’s Sundance Theater Institute; and two world premieres for The Children’s Theater of Minneapolis.
As an architectural lighting designer, David collaborated with Herzog & de Meuron from Basel, Switzerland on a case-study glass house - the Kramlich Residence. He designed the lighting for the entire sitescape of WORLD EXPO ’88 in Brisbane, Australia for Artistic Director Sir John Truscott. In New York, David worked on restaurants, retail and theater spaces including: Le Bernardin, The Hudson River Club, Polo Ralph Lauren and the studio performance space at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.
Film work includes the lighting for stage scenes in Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence. David directed a documentary film, The Green Monster, which premiered on PBS America in June 1999.
Recent awards include the 2011 Yomiuri Award for Outstanding Lighting Design for The Hunting Gun (Tokyo); the 2012 Knight of Illumination Award for Best Dance Lighting Design for Sweet Violets (Royal Ballet); the 2015 Dora Award for Siegfried (Canadian Opera Company); and the 2016 Green Room Award for The Marriage of Figaro (Opera Australia).
Slated projects for 2016 include: Waiting for Godot at the Theater du Nouveau Monde in Montreal; world premiere ballets for Liam Scarlett (San Francisco) and Ashley Page (Joffrey – Chicago); a world premiere full-length ballet of Frankenstein for The Royal Ballet; a world premiere full length ballet of The Little Prince for the National Ballet of Canada; and Così fan tutte for director Sir David McVicar at Opera Australia in Sydney.
David designed the Cirque de Soleil production – Michael Jackson One – at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, and in 2008 – Zed – in Tokyo.