Anna Kontek was born in Poland. Her first degree was in architecture which she studied in Warsaw. Kontek later studied at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki and obtained a Master’s degree in Set Design in 1984. She joined the Finnish National Opera in 1982.
She has designed sets and costumes for over 150 operas, ballets and theatre productions. Her career has also taken her to Japan, the United States, France, Poland, Germany, Estonia, Russia, Belarus, the Czech Republic and Sweden. Her work has not only appeared on stage, but also in exhibitions in Finland, Prague, Warsaw, Tokyo, Toronto, Bilbao, Tallinn and Tartu. The artist’s costumes have been included in the Helsinki Theatre Museum’s collection. In 1995 Kontek received the silver medal at the International Prague Quadriennale for her set design and costumes for Igor Stravinsky’s opera The Nightingale. She received the Finnish Wihuri Prize in 2002 for her costumes for Modest Mussorgsky’s opera Khovanshchina. Both of these productions were directed by Juha Hemanus. In 2017, she received the Young Audiences Music Award (YAMawards) for Best Opera for composer Timo Hietala’s Miracle Boy A with her set design and costumes (directed by Riika Oksala). In the same year she received the Onegin Award, which is the most important event in musical theatre in Russia, for Cesar Cui’s opera Prisoner of the Caucasus with her set design and costumes (directed by Neeme Kuningas in Krasnoyarsk). In 2018, she received the Teatralnaja Vesna Festival Prize (Russia) for Best Set Design and Costumes for production of Prisoner of the Caucasus.
In 1991, 1999 and 2017, Kontek received national awards from the Republic of Poland for her promotion of Polish culture abroad, especially in Finland. The artist’s work has also been recognized and awarded by a national award in Finland. Kontek has shared her knowledge and experience with students in Spain, Portugal, Poland and Finland.