Thorleifur Örn Arnarsson, born in Reykjavík, trained as an actor at the Iceland Academy of Arts and gained his first experiences as a director in Reykjavik, Sydney and Helsinki before being accepted to the director’s program at the renowned Ernst Busch Theatre Institute in Berlin. His work Eternal Happiness, co-authored with the award winning Icelandic author Andri Snær Magnason, was premiered at the Reykjavik city Theatre and was subsequently staged at the Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin as well as being nominated for the Icelandic Theatre Award. Since 2009 Arnarsson has worked extensively in Theatres in Germany and Switzerland. His production of Peer Gynt for the Luzern Theatre was heralded as the production of the year in the German speaking world by the influential critic’s website nachtkritik.de. Since 2012 Arnarsson has increasingly been staging opera. His first production was a controversial production of Johann Strauss’s The Bat at the Augsburg Theatre in 2011 followed by a critically acclaimed production of La Boheme at the same theatre in February 2013.
In April 2013 his stage adaptation of the award winning novel by Einar Már Guðmundsson’s Angels of the Universe (Nordic Council’s Literature Prize) premiered at the Icelandic National Theatre and won the Icelandic Theatre prize for best play. Recent productions include Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet at the Staatstheater Mainz, Othello at Staatsschauspiel Dresden and Friedrich Hebbel’s Nibelungen at the Bonn Theatre. From the season 2014-2016 Thorleifur Örn Arnarsson was a leading director at the Staatstheater Wiesbaden, opening the season with the Die Dreigrosschenoper. In 2016 he directed the opening production for the Ibsen Festival in Oslo, and won the Stage Performance of the Year award from Natt&Dag. His production on the Icelandic epic Njals Saga at the City Theatre of Reykjavik was with 10 awards at the Icelandic Theater Awards (Gríman) 2016. Amongst them the award for director of the year and best production.