A production originally commissioned in 2004 by New Kent Opera for singer, puppet, guitar and piano, with animated drawings by Peter Bailey. Puppet by Mandarava. Revived many times, most recently in a new arrangement for Princeton, USA in 2017 (click here for audio excerpts).
(Sean Rafferty, BBC Radio 3, In Tune)
(Mark Pappenheim, Critic’s Choice, Independent, 17.11.05)
“fine baritone in his own imaginative new staging”
(Barry Millington, Critic’s Choice, Evening Standard, 19.11.05)
“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)
Click here to make further enquiries or book this show, and here to listen to excerpts from Guthrie’s own arrangement for strings, fortepiano, penny whistle and tree branch, developed and performed in Princeton, USA in 2017.