Scottish designer John Macfarlane made his Royal Ballet debut in 1985 on Peter Wright’s production of Giselle. He has since returned regularly to the Royal Opera House, desiging Glen Tetley’s La Ronde and Liam Scarlett’s Asphodel Meadows, Sweet Violets and The Age of Anxiety for The Royal Ballet, and Erwartung/Duke Bluebeard’s Castle and Peter Grimes, directed by Willy Decker, Die Zauberflöte, directed by David McVicar, and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Gianni Schicchi/L’Heure espagnole, directed by Richard Jones, for The Royal Opera. In the 2015/16 Season he creates the designs for Scarlett’s new full-length narrative ballet for The Royal Ballet, Frankenstein.
Macfarlane studied at the Glasgow School of Art. His painting and printmaking is widely exhibited across the UK and Europe. He works extensively as a designer for opera and dance. Opera credits include Hansel and Gretel for Welsh National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, New York, The Queen of Spades for WNO, War and Peace and La clemenza di Tito for Paris Opéra, Agrippina for La Monnaie, Brussels, Boris Godunov for Netherlands Opera, Euryanthe for Glyndebourne Festival, The Trojans for English National Opera, Don Giovanni for La Monnaie and in San Francisco, Idomeneo for Vienna State Opera, Elektra for Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Rake’s Progress for Scottish Opera and Maria Stuarda for the Metropolitan Opera.
Macfarlane regularly collaborates with such choreographers as Jiří Kyliàn, Scarlett, Tetley and Wright, his many designs including The Nutcracker, Le Baiser de la fée and Cinderella for Birmingham Royal Ballet.
News and features
Designer John Macfarlane gives an up-close look at the ballet's sets which include a full-size anatomy theatre complete with gory prop cadaver.
Our quick introduction to Liam Scarlett’s new full-length ballet, inspired by Mary Shelley’s Gothic masterpiece.
Watch: John Macfarlane on designing Frankenstein — 'We kept coming back to something that was so simple'
The designer on the challenges of adapting Mary Shelley's novel, and creating authentic period costumes that allow for the freedom of 21st century dance.