Five new operas for Buxton

Published: 1 February 2024
Reporter: Steve Orme

Irish mezzo-soprano Niamh O’Sullivan who will take the lead in Peter Brook’s adaptation of Bizet’s La tragédie de Carmen

Five new opera productions will be unveiled at the 2024 Buxton International Festival—works by Verdi, Handel, Haydn, Bizet and Ethel Smyth.

Artistic director Adrian Kelly said, “Buxton is nothing if not brave and we have some formidable casts lined up this year, with faces old and new. We’re packing a punch this summer, make no mistake.”

Adrian Kelly will conduct a new production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Ernani with the Orchestra of Opera North—the orchestra’s first time at the festival for 30 years. The cast will feature Roman Arndt, André Heyboer, Alastair Miles, Nadine Benjamin, Jane Burnell, Emyr Lloyd Jones and Theo Perry. It will be directed by Jamie Manton and designed by Sami Fendall.

Ernani is an operatic dramma lirico in four acts which tells the tragic love story of Elvira who is caught between three men: her lover, her guardian and the King of Spain. It will run at Buxton Opera House on 6, 10, 12, 14 and 17 July.

Buxton International Festival chief executive Michael Williams said, “we expect Ernani to be an extraordinary experience that will enchant and inspire our audience.”

The festival will join forces with the Early Opera Company for a new production of George Frideric Handel’s Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno. Anna Dennis, Hilary Cronin and Hilary Summers will be among the cast. Jacopo Spirei will direct and design will be by Anna Bonomelli. It will run at Buxton Opera House on 7, 11, 15 and 18 July.

In its second collaboration with Norwich Theatre, BIF will present Peter Brook’s adaptation of Bizet’s La tragédie de Carmen. Brook’s adaptation includes elements of the Georges Bizet opera as well as the original Prosper Mérimée novella on which Bizet’s opera was based.

Niamh O’Sullivan, Erin Rossington, Steffan Lloyd Jones and Elgan Llŷr Thomas will take to the stage. It will be conducted by Iwan Davies, directed by Katharina Kastening and designed by Bettina John. It will be at the Opera House on 5, 9, 13 and 16 July.

A new production of The Boatswain’s Mate, written by British composer and suffragette Ethel Smyth, centres on a battle of the sexes on the seafront in Margate.

It will feature Joshua Baxter, Theo Perry, Elizabeth Findon, Richard Woodall and Rebecca Anderson. The opera will be conducted by Rebecca Warren and directed by Nick Bond. It can be seen in the Pavilion Arts Centre, Buxton on 8, 14 and 19 July.

The last of the new productions for 2024 will be Joseph Haydn’s two-act operetta La canterina. This comedic opera has “all the ingredients for a riotous show with its stock-in-trade buffo figures: the aspiring, money-grabbing diva; her mother adept at procuring suitors; an oily, lascivious singing teacher; and a wealthy young lover.”

Helen Maree Cooper, Dominic Mattos, Jonah Halton and Jane Burnell will be among the cast. It will be conducted by Toby Hessian and directed by Lysanne Van Overbeek in the Pavilion Arts Centre on 7, 11, 18 and 20 July.

Public booking will open on Tuesday 2 April.

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