John Macfarlane

John Macfarlane was born in Scotland and studied at the Glasgow School of Art. He received an Arts Council of Great Britain Trainee Designer award and spent some time as Resident Designer at the Young Vic Theatre in London.

For the first fifteen years of his career he worked mainly in dance with many of the major international companies. He collaborated with Jiri Kylian and the Netherlands Dance Theatre (Songs of a Wayfarer, Les Noces, Dreamtime, L’Enfant et les Sortileges, Piccolo Mondo, The Soldier’s Tale, Forgotten Land and Tanzschul); and Glen Tetley, The Fire Bird (Danish Royal Ballet), Weigenlied (Vienna State Opera), La Ronde and Tagore (Canadian Royal Ballet) and Dialogues (Dance Theatre of Harlem). He has also designed for the classical ballet repertoire: Swan Lake in Munich, Giselle(Royal Ballet) and Nutcracker (Birmingham Royal Ballet/Australian National Ballet) both with Sir Peter Wright, and Le Baiser de la fee (Birmingham).   In 2010 he designed Cinderella for Birmingham Royal Ballet to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the creation of that Company. In 2010 he designed Asphodel Meadows and in 2012 Sweet Violets with Liam Scarlett (Royal Ballet).

Latterly John Macfarlane has focussed on opera where he designs both sets and costumes. He works regularly with the German producer, Willy Decker, David McVicar , Richard Jones and with Francesca Zambella,.

With Willy Decker John designed A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Cologne Opera);Julius Caesar (Scottish Opera); Peter Grimes (Brussels); La Clemenza di Tito (Paris Opera); Otello (Brussels); Falstaff (Florence); Boris Gudunov (Amsterdam); Bluebeard/Ewartung (ROH); and Idomeneo (Vienna Opera).

John worked with David McVicar on Agrippina (Brussels); Magic Flute (ROH); Don Giovanni (Brussels), The Rake’s Progress (Scottish Opera); Elektra (Chicago) and Maria Stuarda (Metropolitan Opera New York) both in 2012.

Hansel and Gretel, his first production with Richard Jones for Welsh National Opera won an Olivier Award and was re-mounted by the Met in New York at Christmas 2007. Their second production, The Queen of Spades won the Royal Philharmonic Award. They worked together on Euryanthe for Glyndebourne Festival Opera;the second part of The Trojans for English National Opera; Lady Macbeth of Mtsenk and a double bill of L’Espagnol and Gianni Schichhi for the Royal Opera House.

With Francesca Zambella he designed Benvenuto Cellini (Grand Theatre, Geneva),Barber of Seville (Santa Fe) and War and Peace (Bastille, Paris).

Future work includes Rusalka (Chicago), Otello (Met New York), a new full evening ballet with Liam Scarlett (Royal Ballet) , and  Tosca (Chicago).

In addition to his opera and dance work, John Macfarlane exhibits regularly as a painter and print maker in the U.K and Europe.

John Macfarlane


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