Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Rare Verdi, mature Mozart and Californian Donizetti: Buxton Festival 2018

Kate Ladner as Lady Macbeth in Verdi's Macbeth at the Buxton Festival 2017 (photo Robert Workman)
Kate Ladner as Lady Macbeth in Verdi's Macbeth
at the Buxton Festival 2017 (photo Robert Workman)
The Buxton Festival runs from 6 to 22 July, and the operatic focus this year is on Verdi, Mozart, Donzetti and Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello. The festival opens on 6 July with a gala evening at Buxton Opera House with Lesley Garrett, soloists from Opera North and the Northern Chamber Orchestra conducted by Nicholas Kok.

Director Elijah Moshinsky and conductor Stephen Barlow continue their exploration of lesser known Verdi operas. Having produced Verdi's Giovanna D'Arco and the original version of Macbeth, Moshinky and Barlow turn their attention to a real rarity for 2018, Verdi's Alzira. Produced in 1845, the opera is based on Voltaire's play Alzire and is set amongst the warring Incas and Spanish. Kate Ladner (who was a memorable Lady Macbeth in 2017, see my review) returns as Alzira, with Gareme Danby as Alvaro, James Clereton as Gusmano and Yung Soo Jun (who sang Macduff last year) returning as Zamoro. It remains one of Verdi's least performed operas, not being successful during his lifetime.

The festival turns to Mozart's first mature masterpiece, Idomeneo for its second opera. Stephen Medcalf directs and Nicholas Kok conducts. The opera is being given in the original version with a mezzo-soprano Idamante (the role was written for a soprano castrato, but Mozart later started to revise it for tenor). Paul Nilon takes the title role with Heather Low as Idamante, Rebecca Bottone as Ilia and Madeleine Pierard as Elettra (both Bottone and Pierard were in the festival's 2017 production of Mozart's earlier opera seria, Lucia Silla, see my review).

A new production of Donizetti's The Daughter of the Regiment is a co-production between Opera della Luna and the festival which sets the piece in amongst Californian biker gangs, with Suzanne Shakespear as Marie and Jesus Alvarez as Tonio.

Adrian Chandler and La Serenissima will be bringing a concert performanc of Tisbe, an opera by Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello written in 1718/19 for the Duke of Wurttemberg and based on the popular tale of Pyramus and Thisbe.

Concerts and recitals at the festival include appearances by the Fitzwilliam Quartet, the Consone Quartet, the Sacconi Quartet, the Fibonacci Sequence,  Christian Blackshaw, Joanna MacGregor, Stephne Kovacevich, Ashley Solomon, Roderick Williams and Iain Burnside. Clare Norburn is bringing her concert/play Vision - The Imagined Testimony of Hildegarde of Bingen, and two BBC New Generation Artists Ashley Riches and Kathyrn Rudge are in recital with Simon Lepper.

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