Reviews

‘as a scintillating evening of high quality entertainment it’s hard to beat’, Opera Britannia

‘audaciously expressive, chilling and thrilling’, Sunday Times

‘ingenious and utterly captivating throughout’, What’s On Stage

‘enormously impressive’, Classical Source

‘powerfully staged’, Times

‘ingenious, intelligent, funny and engrossing’, OMH

‘ravishing… engaging, alluring and challenging… Thomas Guthrie has a unique way with theatre’, Opera Now

‘astonishing… hugely enjoyable.. .exhilarating’, Evening Standard

‘superb’, Times

‘a glorious evening’, Opera Now

‘brilliant’, Opera

‘Thomas Guthrie is hot news. His imagination knows no bounds’, 
Opera Now

Winner of Cultural Highlight Award, London Evening Standard and Brighton Festival Angel Award

 

2012

ORLANDO GENEROSO

“How to convey all the magical spectacle Hanover’s stage machinery would have provided in 1691? This was easily done in director Thomas Guthrie’s brilliant idea of setting the whole work within a silent movie context. The manipulative sorcerer became the director, and flickering film, cut-out monsters and all, created the background to each act. Suddenly the tiny Barber stage became a world of possibility.”
OPERA

“It worked brilliantly”
– **** (4 STARS) BIRMINGHAM POST

HOT HOUSE

“Hot House, part of One Big Stage, was one big ambitious project which burst into life on the stage of the Royal Opera House in July 2012, just ahead of the Olympics, as part of the London 2012 celebrations… A total of 300 young people performed and a further 650 were involved in organizing, designing, set building and costume making… The great achievement of all this enthusiastic and country-wide cross-collaborating was that it somehow all came together into a coherent dramatic and musical whole, with highly professional and committed performances from everyone concerned.”
OPERA

BARBER OF SEVILLE

– **** (4 STARS) THE INDEPENDENT

“Hugely entertaining and highly recommended”
THE STAGE

“ETO is nothing if not consistent in the work it does, and in this production it has a sure fire hit on its hands. As a scintillating evening of high quality entertainment it’s hard to beat.”
— **** (4 STARS) OPERA BRITANNIA

— **** (4 STARS) SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

“It renders a well-beloved work faithfully, inventively and humourously. If you want to hear classic comic opera or simply want some lovely music and an evening’s escape, I can’t think of better.”

— **** (4 STARS) BACHTRACK

“Full of energy and vivid character … Funny and enjoyable in all the right ways.”
OPERA TODAY

2011
WINTERREISE

“A sour, bronchitic rasp opens and closes baritone Thomas Guthrie’s staging of Winterreise. As the first notes of Schubert’s song cycle sound, woodcut clouds drift across a full moon on a screen above. Huddled under burlap, barely visible in the darkness, a small wooden figure looks up and begins to sing, hot with fever in a frozen landscape.
Movement is necessarily restricted in Guthrie’s liminal production. Performed in the tiny Tristan Bates Theatre with a period guitar and an 1828 grand piano, the journey unfolds in flashback. As puppet and singer-animator become one, it barely matters whether we are in the coal-burner’s hut (“Rast”) or the cemetery (“Das Wirtshaus”). The enforced intimacy is transformative, turning a clean, collegiate baritone into something wild and dark. Consonants cut like blades or whisper like leaves, the great moan of “Wasserflut” sears. Meanwhile, the careless prettiness of Sam Cave’s guitar is contrasted with the oyster-shell timbres of David Owen Norris’s piano. From the Beethovenian glower of “Erstarrung” to the gentle ripple of “Der Lindenbaum”, the bone-shaking clatter of “Die Post”, the nostalgic whistle of “Frühlingstraum”, the silvered skies of “Die Krähe” and the faint drone of “Der Leiermann” this was audaciously expressive, chilling and thrilling.”
Anna Picard, SUNDAY TIMES, 18.12.11

“It’s an extraordinary experience. This little piece of wood and cloth has such pathos, and your heart is drawn helplessly to its childlike vulnerability – more than to most singers.
Guthrie manipulates it with great delicacy, creating fleeting emotions as well as the histrionic despair of Schubert’s songs. David Owen Norris played a rather jangly 1828 piano, and Sam Cave’s guitar made an atmospheric alternative accompaniment to some of the songs, notably ‘Der Leiermann’. Guthrie’s expressive singing made this a haunting and memorable journey.”
Robert Thicknesse OPERA NOW, March 2012

FAIRY QUEEN

“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.”
INTERMEZZO

“Guthrie’s leap of imagination produces a shaded and completely delightful fantasy. An enchanted, romantic evening.”
THE TABLET

2010

LUDD AND ISIS

“The chorus excelled. Thomas Guthrie’s direction gave them opportunity for Dickensian roister as well as focussed, clear-cut choral singing. To a man, woman and child, they convinced. The final moments, as the length, breadth and depth of the extraordinary space was filled with the hawkers, quacks and sailors from the earlier Purfleet fair, were astonishing. This achievement, not only in that moment but in the year of planning, energy and commitment preceding it, must be one of the Royal Opera’s grandest.”
OPERA NOW, March 2011

 

Earlier:

Director Walton’s The Bear

Royal Opera House Linbury Theatre 

**** David Mellor in The Mail on Sunday, “a splendidly farcical production”

 

Geoffery Norris in the Telegraph, Bootmaker’s Daughter, May 2008 ***** (five stars)

a strong, reflective experience.

Brighton Argus, Bootmaker’s Daughter, May 2008

an intensely theatrical production.

Hilary Finch in the Times, Bootmaker’s Daughter, May 2008

powerfully staged.

 

MusicOMH.com, Rita,October 2007

intelligent, funny and engrossing…the simplicity of Thomas Guthrie’s set allows the human drama to stand firmly and correctly at stage front…the direction of the principals is responsive and realistic.

 

Musical Opinion, Rita,Jan-Feb 2008

The Director, Thomas Guthrie, himself a Young Artist, used Kevin Knight’s attractive Café set to bring on some of the other singers in mute roles to fill in the background with ingeniously conceived mini-scenes.

Opera Now, King Arthur, July 2007

Tom Guthrie has a unique way with theatre. After his earlier dramatic forays (The Magic Flute, Purcell’s The Fairy Queen) plus his mesmerising Winterreise (with puppet) and crazy large-cast Rückert Lieder, the Royal Opera House has snapped him up as a director for its Jette Parker Young Artists Programme. Guthrie is hot news; his imagination knows no bounds.  …allusion galore in Guthrie’s impishly revamped script (with Dryden’s lyrics unaltered) … a ubiquitous trio of gor-blimey privates lather and shave in underwear; ‘Come if you dare’ sings one, as he does up his fly-buttons and grabs his puttees…pure Purcellian catch…‘Hither, this way’ sets in flow a crazed pursuit in the dark with torches (a chase to free Emmeline in the original)…battle is joined…the survivor (Tom) sings ‘Serene and calm’, ravishingly…what we engage with, captured to perfection in ‘Fairest Isle’, is the aura – of allure, puzzlement and challenge – that Guthrie’s staging casts over one.

musicomh.com, King Arthur, June 2007
The greatest pleasure, for me, was to see how director (and bass) Thomas Guthrie manipulated the music to fit his scheme. Numbers were removed and the order was altered; the Act Four Passacaglia (Purcell’s homage to Lully) was successfully transformed from a spirit temptation to a wedding ritual at the end of Act One. Hither this way, normally an antiphony of sprite calls, became the haunting accompaniment to a shivering, torch lit trek across the battlefield.
..I enjoyed the production immensely for its balance of realism and Expressionism… the tight, rhythmic choreography of the soldiers and, subsequently, the nurses made sure to interest the eye. To contrast the formalised movement of the men (it made sense, they are soldiers after all), two acrobatic figures opened and closed the act with flowing limbs and sexually suggestive bodily contortions. At one point, their gravity-defying movement continued after the music had ended: I was reminded of an equally captivating moment at the end of Christopher Wheeldon’s Danse à grande vitesse, one of the more memorable dance premieres in London last year.

Independent , King Arthur , June 2007
…this concept works brilliantly. The extraordinary aria by the Cold Genius, where the music shudders and creaks like the ice-bound earth it describes, is here turned into an event of great pathos, as the character becomes a hunched figure in a greatcoat who staggers out of a trench, to be tended by the nurses…music and movement meld perfectly, and the choreography of the masques is charming throughout.

The Times, King Arthur, May 2007
Full marks for ambition

Brighton Argus , Magic Flute , May 2007
If you were anywhere in the vicinity of New Road, Brighton, at the weekend, you would have heard some squeals of laughter and some childish giggling.
Have no fear – it was the gentle spirit of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart being hugely amused at a new production of his last opera, The Magic Flute.
Written for the Theater an der Wien, a popular musical run by Emanuel Schikanader, who was a friend of Mozart and the librettist of this work, it received its premiere on September 30, 1791, just weeks before the composer’s death. It is a rich mixture of solemnity and playfulness, a send-up of freemasonry, a celebration of The Enlightenment and of the ordinary public of suburban Vienna.
And in this new production by the Armonico Consort and the Orchestra of the Baroque from Warwickshire, the balance of that blend is captured to perfection. Indeed, I would go so far as to say this was a hugely enjoyable and satisfying production and one of the best Magic Flutes I have ever seen.
This company brought Purcell’s The Fairy Queen to the Brighton Festival last year and the same composers performed King Arthur earlier last week.
Through director Thomas Guthrie the company has become a by-word for freshness, innovation and the sheer joy of opera. This Magic Flute has served only to enhance this reputation.
Guthrie has assembled a talented troupe of singers and musicians and I could not help but fall in love with the Princess Pamina of Elin Manahan Thomas, a fine soprano who sang of love and yearning with tremendous feeling and a heart-melting quality. Mark Wilde’s Prince Tamino did the same excellent work in the male role.
Guthrie himself took on the role of Papageno and gave his audience a blustery, blokey bird-catcher, full of jokes, cracker-barrel philosophy and general down-to-earthness.
The singing was generally of a very high standard, to a beautifully witty and sparkling English text and sung with a clarity which would put to shame many English National Opera productions.
This was as near a perfect Magic Flute as you could wish for and would serve as the perfect introduction to opera for newcomers. It would also satisfy buffs as well.

Independent on Sunday, Magic Flute, January 2007

‘Thomas Guthrie’s deft production, with puppetry, fire-eating, some excellent singing and dancing from the young pupils of the Allesley School of Dance, a sharp-witted translation by Kit Hesketh Harvey, and lovely designs by Roger Butlin, was as remarkable for the easy fluidity of the dialogue as it was for its clever use of space, innovative presentation of the trials by fire and water, and highly entertaining introduction to Papagena (Arabella Nathan). Mark Wilde, a consummate Mozartian, led the cast as Tamino, with Elin Manahan Thomas as a touchingly delicate Pamina, Ronald Nairne a sonorous Sarastro, and Guthrie himself ad-libbing with easy charm as Papageno. Under Christopher Monks, a trim chamber orchestra sped merrily along, while the trios, quartets and quintets were delightfully balanced. Diary permitting, I look forward to seeing their King Arthur this summer.’.

Telegraph, Fauré Requiem, February 2007
‘An exquisite, eloquently voiced and profoundly touching performance of Fauré’s Requiem. At one extreme there was the hushed singing of the “Sanctus”, at the other was the powerful, wrathful attack on “Dies illa, dies irae”, prefaced by the sense of foreboding that the baritone Thomas Guthrie instilled into the “Libera me”. This was a performance of perfectly poised fluency, quiet intensity and consolatory contemplation.’

The Times, Tarka the Otter, world premiere, October 2006

‘Williamson, sung persuasively here by Thomas Guthrie as a traumatised army officer, was a complex figure… a fine singer’.

Evening Standard, Winterreise, Hampstead, November 2005

“magic filled the air”.

 

Opera Now, Winterreise, November 2005
“wonderfully animated performer, living every nuance of the music in his face and voice… vocally outstanding… Guthrie has the softened vocal grit and pastel timbre of a Wolfgang Holzmair, feeding deep intensity into the merest dusting of the notes… distinguished music-making, superbly supported by Gary Cooper”

Puppet Notebook, Winterreise, November 2005
“Thomas Guthrie manipulates the puppet and, at the same time, sings with great intensity and fluidity – an extraordinary feat of concentration…black and white drawings by illustrator Peter Bailey…a lovely idea that helps to locate each song…puppet and singer breathed as one; there were beautifully handled shifts in focus – a downcast look, a distant gaze – that confirmed how supernaturally expressive puppets can be”

Early Music Review, Winterreise, November 2005
“fascinating.. generated a reflective and philosophical response from this reviewer”.

 

Telegraph, Tavener’s Ikon, Chichester Festival, October 2005
“Thomas Guthrie as the baritone soloist was powerfully authoritative”.

Independent,  Streetwise Opera’s staging of Mahler’s Rückert Lieder, Nottingham, September 2005
“Ich atmet einen linden Duft!”, sung by the baritone Thomas Guthrie…is entrancing, enrapturing. ”

Opera News Online, Fairy Queen, August 2005
“highly inventive staging…worked wonders… with the help of a vocally outstanding cast, Guthrie (widely praised for his staged version of Die Winterreise ) evoked a strange, mysterious netherworld…above all, the sleep sequence was magically staged; nurses and doctors hovered like compassionate demigods, as if external forces were striving to cure the pains and anxieties of distracted human beings…Guthrie’s hilarious depiction of the drunken poet, preceded by a mesmerizing trapeze routine, conjured up memories of the “heavenly” Titania and “earthen” Bottom…every small “hospital” routine — the ritual of making beds, adjusting pillows, checking notes — became a tiny fey ritual, resembling parts of a dance…Guthrie’s treatment of the wedding scene, performed with a pair of eerily lifelike puppets, was hypnotic; and the descent of Phoebus (a life-sized puppet) added yet another arresting effect to an evening that was beguiling from start to finish”

Opera Now, Fairy Queen, Three Choirs Festival, August 2005
“A glorious evening”.

 

Times, Fairy Queen, August 2005
“superb”

Evening Standard, Messiah, St John’s Smith Square, December 2004
“A wonderful performance…Thomas Guthrie sang with ample feeling…bring on Christmas”.

Evening Standard, St John Passion, St John’s Smith Square, April 2004
“Annual Passion that just goes on getting better… Thomas Guthrie’s Pilate was a troubled, baffled man, a subtle reading that shifted the balance of power between judge and prisoner”.

Ross-shire Journal
Recital, Invergordon Arts Society, November 2003
“Simply the tops…fine, varied recital…enthralling presentation…overwhelming, sheer brilliance…the Mozart aria amazed all present with the singer’s perfectly in tune whistling representing the tootling on the Magic Flute…rousing Toreador Song…a most enjoyable evening’s entertainment.”

Music and Vision

Bampton Classical Opera, St John’s Smith Square, September 2003 (director and Totaro)

“Thomas Guthrie played the hapless baron in fine comic style…in good voice…subtle and intuitive…true buffo playing..the production was witty, slick and involving…energetic comic business set alongside classic pose to delightful effect.”

Posing classically as Totaro with Fiona Harrison (Laura) and Mark Saberton (Demofonte) in Cimarosa’s Two Barons of Rocca Azurra

The Independent

Bampton Classical Opera, St John’s Smith Square, September 2002

“Guthrie’s notable onstage comic and vocal gifts – sly gestures, objectionable facials, artful over- and under-reaction”

Early Music Review

Wigmore Hall, May 2002

“Thomas Guthrie’s beautifully fluid and mellifluous voice caught the mood precisely… dramatic agility and emotional depth… deserved the whoops and yells that shook the Wigmore Hall”

The Independent

Hampstead and Highgate Festival, May 2002

“..the terrific baritone, Thomas Guthrie”

Early Music Review, July 2001
Biber Violin Sonatas, Nisi Dominus, Monica Huggett, Sonnerie, ASV CD GAU 203
“Add to this the beautifully controlled sound of rising star, Thomas Guthrie, and you have a recipe for delight”

 

The Scotsman
The Seer, September 2001
“Superb”

Opera
The Seer, September 2001
“Thomas Guthrie gave a superb performance”

As the Earl with mezzo-soprano Louise Innes (Lady Seaforth) in Bevan Baker’s The Seer, 2001

The Independent
Bampton Classical Opera, July 2001
“None seemed much of an actor-improviser apart from Thomas Guthrie, whose janitor-Lubano, laced with quirky gesture and sidling nuance, produced convincingly good singing in aria and duet alike”

Opera
Bampton Classical Opera, July 2001
“…with co-director Thomas Guthrie, who also sang a mellifluous Lubano, {Bampton} served up a vivacious performance”

The Times
Bampton Classical Opera, July 2001
“Thomas Guthrie’s proto-Papageno, Lubano, carried the evening, a natural hangdog comic”

 

As Lubano with soprano Gillian Keith (Lubanara) in Mozart and co’s Der Stein der Weisen, 2001

The Times
Bampton Classical Opera, July 2000
“outstanding”

Opera
Bampton Classical Opera, July 2000
“physically and vocally elastic”

 

With David Murphy, Benjamin Hulett (tenors) and baritone Mark Saberton in Bampton’s Storace production, 2000

Independent

York Early Music Festival, Radio Three, July 2000, Schütz St John Passion

“Thomas Guthrie’s singing of the Evangelist’s role was the highlight of the evening by a mile: subtle enjambements and pauses, a warm pleading tone, a beautiful nursing and caressing of text, and a passionate range of delivery – never cheaply operatic – that drew the listener to the heart and core of the religious drama. Such gifts need a wider airing”

 

Early Music Review

Wigmore Hall, March 98

“one of the finest concerts I have ever heard… Thomas Guthrie’s natural and unforced tone and exquisitely expressive affinity with Bach’s music was wonderful to experience – a singer to watch out for”