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) both with Sir Peter Wright, and Le Baiser de la fée (Birmingham). Nutcracker has been remounted recently by the Australian National Ballet.
Latterly John Macfarlane has focussed on opera where he designs both sets and costumes. He works regularly with the German producer, Willy Decker, and with Francesca Zambella, David McVicar and Richard Jones.
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); Othello (Brussels); Falstaff (Florence); Boris Gudunov (Amsterdam); Bluebeard/Ewartung (Royal Opera House); and Idomeneo (Vienna Opera).
With Francesca Zambella he designed Benvenuto Cellini (Grand Theatre, Geneva), Barber of Seville (Santa Fe) and War and Peace (Paris).
John worked with David McVicar on Agrippina (Brussels); Magic Flute (ROH) and Don Giovanni (Brussels). They will do The Rake’s Progress together in Copenhagen in 2009. Hansel and Gretel, his first production with Richard Jones for Welsh National Opera won an Olivier Award and is being 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.
John’s future commitments include Cinderella for Birmingham Royal Ballet, Elektrafor Chicago and Maria Stuarda for the Metropolitan Opera, New York.
In addition to his opera and dance work, John Macfarlane exhibits regularly as a painter and print maker in the U.K and Europe.