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Welcome to the website of director Tom Guthrie

To see Tom at work for the Royal Opera, click here, to read his article on his recent ***** production of Flying Dutchman for Longborough, click here, and to see him discuss his upcoming production of Dido and Aeneas at the Barbican, click here. More to read here.


About

Thomas Guthrie is an innovative and award-winning British director working in theatre and music to tell stories in vivid, new and direct ways.

A former Jette Parker Young Artist Stage Director at the Royal Opera House in London, his revival of David McVicar’s Die Zauberflöte there won What’s On Stage Best Revival 2018. His own critically acclaimed productions of Le Nozze di Figaro and Die Zauberflöte at Longborough Festival Opera  led to an invitation to direct Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer there in 2018 (subsequently called ‘one of the best productions at this venue I have seen’, Rupert Christiansen, Telegraph).

With a reputation for stylish, energetic, physical, theatrical and often controversial work, the clarity of the storytelling, the commitment of the performers and a pre-eminence of musical values are at the heart of his productions.

‘Good theatre depends more on engaging and inspiring the imagination of the audience than on telling them what to think’ (from a recent Q and A at Princeton University). Or to put it another way, to quote David Bowie: ‘the space in the middle is what the 21st century is going to be all about’ (interview in the Guardian, 2016).

Tom also works with non-professionals of all ages and backgrounds. Some of his most thrilling projects have been in this field, including with Streetwise Opera, the Prison Choir Project and the Royal Opera House, through whom he has inspired hundreds to connect with their inner Caruso and raise the roof. His production of Ludd and Isis, an opera commissioned to launch the ROH’s new Production Park in Thurrock, involving a cast of hundreds, including professionals and amateurs of all ages, was acclaimed as ‘one of the Royal Opera House’s grandest achievements’ (Opera).

Thomas is the founder and artistic director of the charity Music and Theatre for All, Guest Artistic Advisor to the York Early Music Festival, and was Belknap Fellow at Princeton University, New Jersey in 2017.

“Thomas Guthrie is hot news. His imagination knows no bounds”
OPERA NOW

“Brilliant”
OPERA

Click here to see details and reviews of his recent work, and here for future collaborations

Click here for the ROH’s video introduction to Tom’s award winning revival of Magic Flute (Sept 2017)

Click here for clips from his Winterreise production in Princeton, USA (Oct 2017)

Click here to see the Guardian’s photo essay on Tom’s Barbiere revival at ROH, 2016

Click here to watch a video on the making of the London premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Monster in the Maze conducted by Simon Rattle and directed by Tom from 2015

Click here for Music and Theatre For All’s Death Actually trailer, here to watch a 1 minute trailer for their Die schöne Müllerin and here for 1 minute of the Bach Motets (all from 2014)

Recent

Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas: A funeral for the Queen of Carthage, Barbican, London, October 2018

***** ’This was a stunning idea: or rather set of ideas.. A remarkable evening’ (Seen and Heard International)

**** ‘a freewheeling, fresh take’ (Guardian)

**** ‘inventive’ (Times)

**** ‘It hurt in all the right places, a deeply moving performance: what a pity it’s only getting the one performance’ (Bachtrack)

**** ‘The puppets, which Guthrie dubs ‘transitional objects’, paradoxically make the drama more human’ (Artsdesk)

‘Still thinking about @AAMorchestra‘s stunning Dido & Aeneas @BarbicanCentre last night, complete with unexpected but very effective puppetry. A powerful and thought-provoking performance’

‘Breathtaking #dido @BarbicanCentre  last night. With visionary production from @bastianboytg and craft from @aam and singers it will stay with me for a very long time. And the first half was also so moving and beautiful…#lipquiver

‘Astounding Dido and Aeneas from @AAMorchestra @BarbicanCentre. Compelling, haunting, and thought-provoking. Loved. Every. Single. Minute.’

‘Really loved @AAMorchestra‘s Dido and Aeneas tonight @BarbicanCentre. Thought Thomas Guthrie and Richard Egarr’s invented funeral for Dido was genius – I was devastated Dido was dead before the opera even began (spoiler alert?)’

‘Thank you @AAMorchestra for a superb Dido and Aeneas at #barbicancentre tonight.’

‘Tonight’s Dido and Aeneas @BarbicanCentre used large hand puppets to act and express emotion while singers holding them just sang. What was astonishing is that this made the performance so deeply moving. Can’t believe such an original production will only have one performance.’

‘An absolutely magical performance of Dido and Aeneas from @AAMorchestra this evening. So glad to have been there.’

‘What a fantastic surprise. Last minute front row tickets from a friend to Thomas Guthrie’s ‘Dido and Aeneas’. Beautiful dynamic delivery of the Purcell –  v moving.’
(audience reaction)

Wagner’s Flying Dutchman, Longborough Festival Opera, June 2018

        

***** (Fiona Maddocks, Observer)

***** ‘The team at the Longborough Festival have managed to produce a Flying Dutchman that will itself live in legend… a superb production, all the better for its simplicity and clarity… a deeply intelligent telling of the story… as before with his Marriage of Figaro and Magic Flute at Longborough, (Guthrie) has engaged directly with the tale and its mythos and elicited from his cast dramatic cogency that is rare… somewhat reminiscent of the simple productions at Bayreuth in the late 1940s and early 1950s when everything seemed to be done with a few drapes, nice costumes and lighting and the result was cutting through to the quick and the sense of wonder in the works… profoundly insightful and thought-provoking… several minutes of ovations…’ (Mel Cooper, Plays To See)

**** ‘Thomas Guthrie’s production is one of the best I have seen at this address, stylised without being gimmicky… energised and engaging’ (Rupert Christiansen, Daily Telegraph)

**** (MusicOMH)

**** (Seen and Heard International)

‘Impressive… magnetic… thrilling’ (Michael Tanner, Spectator)

‘A superb production… without any of the pretentiousness or absurdity one finds in so many Wagner productions…’ Simon Heffer, Telegraph

’Extraordinarily moving… As the overture ends slow moving figures pass across the stage carrying model houses and a lighthouse, like the chorus in a Greek drama, reminding us that Wagner wanted to recreate Greek tragedy in a modern setting with music at its core… by remaining faithful to Wagner’s ideas and keeping the staging simple, director Thomas Guthrie with his designer Ruth Paton and lighting designer Ben Ormerod bring such clarity to this opera that its impact is far greater than many more elaborate productions, including the current one at Bayreuth… tremendously moving… a thrilling and marvellously simple production… a wonderful evening and a Dutchman to remember’ (Mark Ronan)

‘In the areas that matter most  – people – this was a stimulatingly intelligent reading: the neurosis of Senta, the one-man-only girl who has made the same ‘you-are the only-one’ promise to two men (the most compromised turtle-dove in natural history!) was made articulate as I’ve never seen before, and the blocking in the choral scenes was a constant joy’ (Christopher Wintle)

‘The music was wonderful but to see it come alive like that – words can’t explain… completely enthralling’ (Lady Solti)

‘Unlike any production I’ve ever seen of this work, and I’ve seen plenty’ (audience reaction)

Gounod’s Polyeucte, UC Opera, Theatre Royal Stratford East, March 2018 

    

‘operatic gem… bold opera… excellent staging… human relationships come to the forefront… altogether a wonderful performance… not to be missed’ (Mark Ronan)

’spirited and adventurous’ (Rupert Christiansen)

’Don’t miss it!’ (George Hall)

Winner Best Design at Arts Coulours Awards, 2018

Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, Princeton, USA, January 2018

 

‘a magnificent performance and a truly significant rendition of this opera—one that merits inclusion among the very best… There were so many beautiful touches in the staging; the death of Eurydice was particularly sensitive to the libretto; the ways in which motion and stasis were held in balance—swirls of activity and moments of deep introspection. The simple elegance of the end matched the music in its spiritual concentration’ (audience reaction)

‘spectacular – on every possible level… the sense of space and movement, the moments of quiet stillness… a wonderful experience: deeply imaginative and thoroughly involving’ (audience reaction)

Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo (a different one), Brighton Early Music Festival, November 2017

***** ‘a delight… the setting, the 1960s’ Brighton of Quadrophenia complete with parkas and cigarettes, is inspired… a strange but subtle dislocation between stage and the accompanying 400-year-old music forces you to hear Monteverdi’s music as something fresh… exuberant and engaging’ (Brighton Argus)

’the 1960s Brighton setting was inspired, and it was the most moving announcement of Eurydice’s death I have seen’ (audience reaction)

Schubert’s Winterreise, Princeton Festival of the Arts, USA, October 2017 

‘amazing…extraordinary…wonderful…absolutely compelling’
(BBC Radio 3)

***** ‘audaciously expressive, chilling and thrilling’ (Sunday Times)

***** ’an extraordinary experience’ (Opera Now)

‘I feel like most performances of Winterreise succeed at making you really depressed but don’t really achieve the heart palpitations that are built into the music and the story (lots of low, not enough anxiety), and today I got both, in the best way. Frühlingstraum actually made me cry’ (audience reaction)

‘unbelievably gorgeous, best Winterreise I’ve heard/seen’ (audience reaction)

’I’ve been listening to this piece for 60 years, and I feel I’ve learnt more about it in one evening than in all that time’ (audience reaction)

Mozart’s Magic Flute (revival director), Royal Opera House, September 2017 

**** ‘The audience’s engagement throughout Thomas Guthrie’s razor-sharp revival was remarkable, a sure sign he’s got things right… his recreation is outstanding’ (What’s On Stage)

**** ‘It just gets better and better … with a few delightful tweaks by revival director Thomas Guthrie, it produces a perfect balance between humour, mysticism and drama’ (Express)

**** ‘A splendid revival of a great production of a wonderful opera’ (Sunday Express)

WOS Opera Poll ‘Best Revival’ 2018

Bizet’s Carmen, Prison Choir Project, Dartmoor Prison, July 2017

***** ‘I’ve seen some gripping performances of Carmen, but not one like this’ (The Times)

Winner of a Koestler Trust GOLD Award, 2018

Mozart’s Magic Flute, Longborough Festival Opera, July 2017

***** ‘Simply one of the most delightful, most dramatically and musically arresting performances of this opera imaginable… an ample, moving and at times profound staging using clear and minimalist means. Not once does anything seem wrong or out of place. I found myself reacting with breathtaking delight throughout, as well as considerable emotional engagement’ (Plays to See)

**** ‘Dreams and reality blur, puppets and people intermingle and a fairytale comes to life in this imaginative new production of Mozart’s singspiel… For their charming new production for Longborough Festival Opera, Thomas Guthrie and Ruth Paton take a leaf out of classic childrens’ books to send us tumbling into a fantastical world’ (The Times)

**** ‘Magic feels real here, thanks to the skilful use of puppetry throughout the evening, as well as a faithful, traditional approach to the work itself’ (Bachtrack)

**** ‘An evening that sparkles and moves, in every sense, looks stylish and works beautifully on the musical level’ (Arts Desk)

Bach’s St Matthew Passion, York Early Music Festival, July 2017

‘well judged, increasing dramatic expressiveness and drawing attention to Bach’s mastery in commenting on the action, without ever becoming inappropriately theatrical… a thoroughly enjoyable evening: an unusual take on a great masterpiece… performed with authority, discipline and integrity’ (York Press)

‘SAL:VEH’ (composer, stage director), National Youth Choir of Great Britain , Royal Festival Hall, London, April 2017

  

Mozart’s Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots and Apollo et Hyacinthus, Classical Opera Company, London, March/June 2017

 

**** ‘The production was nimble and effective.. wonderful fun’ (Observer)

**** ‘an unmixed pleasure.. unfussily effective, Classical-era staging by Thomas Guthrie.. the real deal’ (Arts Desk)

**** ‘kept things simple.. allowing the vigour of Mozart’s score to speak out with vivid immediacy’ (Classical Source)

‘entirely ego-free.. a true love of the music placed in the forefront.. a compact, delightful time’ (Schmopera)

Alehouse Boys, Barokksolistene dir Bjarte Eike, 2010-present

‘the latter tune is carried magnificently by singer Thomas Guthrie, whose approach to lyric is informed by his own love of theater, and makes its presence felt in a smattering of standalone ditties, elegies, and sea shanties… whether turning down the lights in his inflection of the Anglo-Scottish border ballad “Lord Randall” or sharing a gender-bending duet with Per T Buhre as Corydon and Mopsa from Purcell’s “The Fairy-Queen,” he brought out the vocal qualities of the other players, just as they coaxed instrumental qualities from within himself… these “Alehouse Sessions,” in both recorded and live form, are exemplary in their ability to melt the cages of censorship into tenderer weapons of humanity… here is music that asserts itself as a commodity only of the heart, fermented with just the right amount of personal expression it until it goes down smoothly like a pint ripe for the palate’ (Tyran Grillo in Rootsworld on the New York City sessions in Subculture Oct 11 2017)

***** ‘…sung by Thomas Guthrie with a rhapsodic freedom, the other players following his every twist and turn like a row of trees bending in unison to the same breeze… completely inauthentic, and completely convincing… such effortless casualness doesn’t come easy: Barroksolistene have been working on this project for almost 10 years, and the performances had a wonderful sense of being thoroughly lived in… the variety of tone and texture was astonishing, ranging from very naughty folk-songs (puritans hate sex too, so it had to feature at some point), to delicate dance tunes with a modal tang, from as far afield as Shetland and Norway… the whole joyous evening was a liberation, carrying us back to a time when the terms “classical” and “folk” hadn’t yet been invented, and music was simply music’ (Daily Telegraph)

Alehouse Sessions recording from 2016 Winner of ‘Klassik ohne Grenzen’ category, Deutsche Klassikpreis 2018

Murmartinstein, Bergen Opera, ‘Mimi Goes Glamping’ and Ulvsnesøy Prison, August and December 2016

See here for Mary Miller’s blog

Mrs Mozart, Bergen Opera, August and October 2016

 

Rossini’s Barbiere di Siviglia, Royal Opera House, September 2016 (revival director)

**** ‘Thomas Guthrie’s reworking of Leiser and Caurier’s 2005 production is tremendous fun’, Guardian

**** ‘Now, as revived by Thomas Guthrie, the show fizzes because of its wonderfully assured performers’, Times

ROH Thurrock Community Chorus 5th Anniversary Gala, July 2016

‘I LOVE you guys’ (Tom Guthrie)

Mozart’s Nozze di Figaro, Longborough Festival Opera, July 2016

 

***** ‘highly evocative… strong, cogent production’ (Plays to See)

**** ‘economy of means… very likeable’ (Classical Source)

**** ‘simple, warm production’ (Bachtrack)

‘intelligent… convincing… many flashes of humour… thought-provoking… Mozart speaking to the world of today’ (Seen and Heard International)

‘thoughtful, dynamic’ (MusicOMH)

‘canny choice of setting, elegantly rendered’ (Spectator)

‘fizzes with joyous interaction’ (Musical Opinion)

GOTcompany’s Real Life Actually installation, Brighton Festival, May 2016

‘more meaning to my present life than I could ever describe in words here’

‘bold/radical in its simplicity, intimacy and informality’

‘creative, moving, a beautiful expression of death’ (audience feedback)

Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Sestina, Northern Ireland, April 2016

‘truly excellent’, Belfast Telegraph

‘compelling, alluring, and gently devastating, a triumph for the power of the collective in an almost full house worthy of its presence’, The Big List

Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte, RNCM, March 2016

 

‘director Thomas Guthrie has created a fascinating take on Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte… highly effective, true to its original and up-to-date at the same time’, Manchester Theatre Awards

‘seriously effective… one might easily imagine it gracing Glyndebourne’, Seen and Heard International

 

Upcoming

2018

August
3 Burying the DeadCeruleo/Clare Norburn, Lake District Summer Music Festival, KENDAL

26 Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, I Fagiolini, dir Robert Hollingworth, ANTWERP

27 Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, National Youth Choir of Great Britain, dir Ben Parry, SNAPE MALTINGS

October
2 Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Academy of Ancient Music, cond Richard Egarr, Barbican Centre, LONDON

16 Mein Freund ist Mein, St John Passion, Sestina, dir Mark Chambers, Cork, IRELAND

November
8 Monteverdi/Blow, Brighton Early Music Festival, BRIGHTON

17 Burying the DeadCeruleo/Clare Norburn, Saxon Shore Early Music Festival, KENARDINGTON

2019

March
24 David Lang’s Public Domain, LSO, Barbican, LONDON

April
24 Handel’s Semele, Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra, cond Sir John Eliot Gardiner, BARCELONA

May
4 Handel’s Semele, Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra, cond Sir John Eliot Gardiner, LONDON

6 Handel’s Semele, Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra, cond Sir John Eliot Gardiner, La Scala, MILAN

26 Burying the DeadCeruleo/Clare Norburn, Beverley Early Music Festival, BEVERLEY

June
Mozart’s Nozze di Figaro (revival), Royal Opera, cond Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Covent Garden, LONDON

July
Monteverdi’s Orfeo (revival of Princeton production from 2018 with puppets and masks), I Fagiolini, York Early Music Festival and LSO St Luke’s, YORK and LONDON

November to January 2020
Aida, Liceu, BARCELONA

Contact

For all work queries please contact Esther Jackson at info@thomasguthrie.com

or me via twitter @bastianboytg