Saturday 8 June 6.00pm
Thomas Guthrie: Puppets in Opera
Free event, advanced booking advised
Thomas Guthrie, stage director of Monteverdi’s opera L’Orfeo and Artistic Adviser to the York Early Music Festival, talks about the history of the use of puppets in opera and theatre, discusses how they can be used to enhance the storytelling and draw attention to the music, and shares his thoughts on how they can take the art form forward.
'Why puppets? There are fairly obvious reasons - they conjure up the language of early Greek theatre, they underline the externalising characteristics of myth. And they die well. But in a sense, it has nothing to do with puppets, and everything to do with simply trying to make good theatrical opera. One of theatre’s great and unique gifts – as with myth itself – is the power it has to inspire our imagination, to lead us into ourselves to find our own stories. Puppets do this by definition. If they don’t, they can’t work. They help create a ‘space in between’, into which the audience is invited, and which, when they enter it, allows them to connect with their own imaginations and their own responses to the story being told. In addition, the moment when the audience suspend their disbelief and believe that what they know to be inanimate is a living and breathing character – that magical moment – is also when their ears open, and the music can make its full impact. Put simply, puppets are powerful tools with which to tell operatic stories. For me it is interesting when the main operator of the puppet is the main communicator. Which is why for this production we have worked with the singers over a period of some months in collaboration with professional puppeteers. I am enormously grateful and excited that Music & Theatre for All are leading the field by supporting the training of these and other singers in puppetry, helping create the possibility of direct, immediate and shocking musical theatre; and that I Fagiolini are such wonderful and game communicators of story in everything they do. If the art of theatre really is the art of suggestion, then puppets have the potential to be a fascinating way to explore live musical storytelling. We hope you enjoy the performance.'