Tom has directed three separate productions of Purcell’s Fairy Queen, including for Middle Temple Hall (*****, Hilary Glover, Financial Times) and Brecon Baroque Festival. Read more below on his original production for Armonico Consort (2005), conducted by Chris Monks which he revived for ETO (2011), conducted by Joseph Hardy.
Designed by Roger Butlin and lit by Kevin Treacy
Puppets by Mandarava
Original choreography by Fiona Watkins, revival choreography by Bernadette Iglich
Ingenious, and utterly captivating throughout. The singers are all superb individually and as an ensemble: I’ve never heard such a well-balanced and yet colourful cast of singers in this work.
— ***** (5 STARS) WHAT’S ON STAGE
Tom Guthrie’s staging of Purcell’s Fairy Queen (featuring the masques without the play) was premiered a few years ago. It achieves some sort of theatrical magic, using just four beds and two puppets to produce a delightful fantasy. The production places the action somewhere beyond the boundaries of normal human sense. The frame was provided by a mental hospital, the reference being the Victorian artist Richard Dadd. The evening shared exactly the strangeness of Dadd’s fairy paintings: this is a dream, we are asleep, who knows what wonders may happen… Purcell’s response to the human condition is as intense and nuanced as Mozart or Handel. Channelling this through the medium of sleepers, madmen, and puppets turned out to be a brilliant shortcut to what it is to be human.
– Robert Thicknesse, OPERA NOW
A slick, varied and highly entertaining production with consistently excellent singing. If you’re a Purcell person, this is definitely worth exploring.
— **** (4 STARS) OPERA BRITANNIA
[Guthrie’s]…astonishing production of Purcell’s Fairy Queen was a hugely enjoyable fusion of music, drama, puppetry and acrobatics. If there’s more to come as exhilarating as this, I’ll be first in the queue.
— EVENING STANDARD, CULTURAL HIGHLIGHT OF 2006
The band sparkles under Joseph McHardy’s baton. What fabulously elegant and seductively lovable music this is…
— THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
A visual feast, with breathtaking physical precision and bursts of subtly sexual choreography. I would highly recommend this production as a great starting point for exploring the genre and am relieved to see that opera is willing to push boundaries and surprise its audience, as other forms of theatre regularly do.
— A YOUNGER THEATRE
What any staging [of The Fairy Queen] needs is magic. And by introducing the aerialists, Guthrie certainly gave us magic. I have never seen the opening of the opera performed more beguilingly.
— MUSIC AND VISION
With sprightly playing from a small ensemble under Joseph McHardy and excellent singing from a small multiply-cast ensemble, it does Purcell proud. Enchanting.
Guthrie’s leap of imagination produces a shaded and completely delightful fantasy. An enchanted, romantic evening.
— THE TABLET