Tuesday 8 October 2013

Buxton Festival 2014

Pauline Viardot as Orpheo in 1860
Pauline Viardot as Orpheo in 1860
Buxton Festival has announced the operas for its 2014 festival, which runs from 11 to 27 July 2014. The opera's on offer next year will be Dvorak's The Jacobin, Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, Rossini's Otello and H.K. Gruber's Gloria - A pigtale. The first three are all the festival's own productions, though the Rossini will only be heard in concert. H.K.Gruber's opera is a visiting production from the Opera Group

Dvorak's The Jacobin will be conducted by the festival's artistic director Stephen Barlow, directed by Stephen Unwin and designed by Paul Willis (the same team behind the festival's fine production of Strauss's Intermezzo in 2012).  Dvorak's opera is something of a neglected masterpiece and has never gained the currency in the UK that it deserves, it is the sort of opera which crops up every so often. Its last outing was a concert performance by the BBC at the Barbican and Scottish Opera performed it in the 1990's.

Gluck's Orfeo is of course better known but still does not get that many theatrical outings and can be notoriously difficult to bring off well in the theatre. And there is, of course, the issue of which version to use. The original Viennese version in Italian of 1762, which is rather short, has too much dancing and lacks some of the famous tunes, uses an alto castrato in the title role. The French version, which Gluck revised for Paris in 1774, requires the services of a high-tenor in the title role. There is also a very rarely done version of the Italian version of the opera for soprano castrato, made in 1766.

Or there is the non-canonic but surprisingly satisfactory traditional version which combines elements of the two. But even this exists in two versions! Berlioz originally conflated the Italian and French versions into a single one in French, in 1859 for female mezzo-soprano. This version was created for Pauline Viardot. And this version forms the basis for the Ricordi edition, which back-translated the French into Italian.

At Buxton the opera will be directed by Stephen Metcalfe and designed by Frances O'Connor.

Rossini's Otello was written for Naples in , notoriously it requires three tenors in leading roles: Otello, Iago and Rodrigo, with Iago reduced in importance and Rodrigo given some high and brilliant music. The first two acts rather play fast and loose with Shakespeare, but the final act makes up for this in a glorious fashion. Buxton are giving three concert performances of the opera.

The Opera Group will bring their production of Gloria - A pigtale, by the eclectically inventive Austrian composer H.K. Gruber. Frederic Wake-Walker directs. No word as yet on casting for any of these.

Further information at dates from the Buxton Festival website.

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