Wednesday 1 November 2023

Haydn, Handel, Bizet, Smyth and early Verdi: after a successful 2023 festival, Buxton announces plans for 2024

Bellini: La Sonnambula - Simon Shibambu, Ziyi Dai - Buxton International Festival at Buxton Opera House (Photo: Genevieve Girling)
Bellini: La Sonnambula - Simon Shibambu, Ziyi Dai - Buxton International Festival at Buxton Opera House (Photo: Genevieve Girling)

As Buxton International Festival looks back on a 2023 festival that exceeded all expectations, the festival has announced plans for next year's festival. Running from 4 to 21 July 2024, the festival will feature five opera productions of works by Verdi, Handel, Bizet, Smyth and Haydn, including renewed collaborations with the Early Opera Company and Norwich Theatre, along with an evening of dance from Carlos Acosta and friends.

The 2023 festival far exceeded expectations with 150 events presented and over 28,000 tickets sold, and 29% of the total audience attended a performance of the festival's production of Bellini's La Sonnambula.

For 2024, the festival is presenting a new production of Verdi's opera, Ernani at Buxton Opera House with the festival's artistic director, Adrian Kelly, conducting the orchestra of Opera North. Written in 1844,   as a follow up to Nabucco and I Lombardi the opera would be Verdi's most popular one in Italy until he wrote Il Trovatore. Performance of the opera in the UK have been somewhat patchy, the last major staging by a UK company seems to have been ENO in 2000, in a production reworking an earlier one from WNO. The present Royal Opera company has never performed the work.

Also in the opera house, The festival is joining forces with Christian Curnyn and the Early Opera Company to present a staging of Handel's early oratorio, Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno. Written in 1707, the work was Handel's first oratorio, premiered in Rome at a time when opera was banned so that aristocratic patrons turned to oratorio. Handel returned to it twice in London, once in 1737 for an expanded Italian version and again in 1757 when Handel, now blind, created an English language version with the help of his secretary John Christopher Smith Jr. 

The third presentation in Buxton Opera House is a production of Peter Brook's rather strange boiling down of Bizet's Carmen, La Tragedie de Carmen. This will be the festival's second collaboration with Norwich Theatre.

There will be two presentations in the Pavilion Arts Centre. There will be new productions of Ethel Smyth's delightful 1914 comedy, The Boatswain's Mate, and Haydn's La Canterina. Written in 1766, Haydn's short opera buffa La Canterina was the first opera that Haydn wrote for Prince Esterhazy, it was intended as a pair of intermezzos to be presented between the acts of an opera seria.

Dancer and choreographer Carlos Acosta will present On Before, pays homage to Acosta’s late mother and includes choreography by Russell Maliphant, Kim Brandstrup, and Will Tuckett. Acosta will perform as alongside Laura Rodríguez, a founding member of his Cuban dance company, Acosta Danza.

Full details from the festival website.

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