Tom Cairns was born in Ireland.
Opera directing credits include The Exterminating Angel (Salzburg Festival / Royal Opera House, Covent Garden / The Metropolitan Opera / Royal Danish Opera); La traviata (Glyndebourne Festival Opera); The Tempest (Olivier Award, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden /Opéra National du Rhin, Strasbourg/Royal Opera, Copenhagen); La Voix Humaine (Royal Opera House, Covent Garden); The Second Mrs Kong (Glyndebourne Festival Opera); La Bohème (Staatsoper, Stuttgart); Un ballo in maschera (Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich); The Makropulos Case (Opera North and Edinburgh International Festival); Jenůfa, Werther (Opera North); Don Giovanni (Scottish Opera); King Priam (English National Opera/Opera North/ Flanders Opera).
Theatre directing credits include Scenes from an Execution, Aristocrats and The Odyssey (Royal National Theatre); Being Shakespeare (Trafalgar Studios, New York and Chicago); All About my Mother, Cloud Nine (Old Vic); Phaedra (Donmar Warehouse); Aunt Dan and Lemon (Almeida); Minetti (Edinburgh International Festival); A Christmas Carol (Arts Theatre); The Music Teacher (New York); A Delicate Balance (Nottingham Playhouse); The Lady from the Sea (Citizens Theatre, Glasgow); Miss Julie (Greenwich).
Film includes Marie and Bruce, with Julianne Moore and Matthew Broderick.
Television directing credits include: Trouble in Tahiti (BBC –Grammy Nomination/Best Film, Vienna Festival); Amongst Women (BBC – BAFTA Nomination, Best Television Series, Banff Television Festival); La voix humaine (Ch 4); Big Day (BBC); Alistair Fish (BBC).