After completing theatre studies in Munich, Rolf Langenfass received his education as a set and costume designer at the Wimbledon School of Art in London.
From 1975 he lived in Vienna and worked there, among others, for the Vienna State Opera, Volksoper Wien, Theater an der Wien, Burgtheater and Volkstheater. Further engagements led him to the Festivals in Salzburg and Bregenz as well as to the Munich Opera Festival. He also worked at the opera houses in Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Cologne, Munich, Berlin, Gothenburg, Oslo, Basel, Zurich and regularly at the Metropolitan Opera – among others, »Don Pasquale« (Regie: Otto Schenk, 2006) with Anna Netrebko and Juan Diego Flórez – and the New York City Opera.
Rolf Langenfass was instrumental in designing the Sisi Museum in the Vienna Hofburg, which opened with great success in 2004, as well as in its renovation in 2009. From 1993 to 2011 he was the set and costume designer of the Seefestspiele Mörbisch, from 1997 to his death in 2012 he also served as Head of Set & Costume and Technical Manager of the Theater in der Josefstadt, of which he was an honorary member from 2004, and of the Kammerspiele in Vienna.
He has been awarded various prizes and honours for his work, such as the Kainz-Medaille (1979), the award of the title of professor (2002), the Grand Decoration of Honour of the Province of Burgenland (2004) and the Medal of Honour of the Federal Capital Vienna in Silver (2005). In 2007 and 2008 he also received nominations for the Nestroy Theatre Prize in the category »Best Set«.
At the Vienna State Opera he designed the sets and costumes for »Baal«, »Die verkaufte Braut«, »Manon Lescaut« (all productions by Otto Schenk), »Un Re in Ascolto« (Production: Götz Friedrich, 1984) – this production celebrated its premiere shortly before at the Salzburg Festival – as well as the two ballets »Scheherazade« (Choreography: Valery Panov, 1981) and »Liebeslieder Walzer« (Choreography: George Balanchine, 1977), which can be seen again in the 2021/22 season.