Buxton International Festival (BIF), which takes place in the heart of the Derbyshire Peak District every year, will feature five operas in its 2022 line-up.
The festival, which runs from 7-24 July, comprises a bigger programme of events than ever before, with more than 100 events held in various venues throughout the Derbyshire town, including the Buxton Opera House, Pavilion Arts Centre, St John’s Church and the Octagon. In addition to the operas, it also features an oratorio, a musical, a jazz programme, a book gala and a classical music series.
The first opera of the festival is Rossini’s La donna del lago (The Lady of the Lake, 1819), with a libretto by Italian librettist Andrea Leone Tottola, based on the narrative poem of the same name by Sir Walter Scott, written in 1810. Set in 16th century Scotland, it tells the story of Elena, the Lady of the title, King James V and two rebel chieftains, Rodrigo and Malcom. While disguised as Uberto, the king meets and falls in love with Elena, who is betrothed to Rodrigo but in love with Malcom.
This new production by BIF is directed by Italian stage director Jacopo Spirei and conducted by Adrian Kelly, the festival’s artistic director, with the Northern Chamber Orchestra. The designer is Madeleine Boyd.
“It’s a festival not to be missed,” Kelly commented. “Despite restrictions last summer, we enjoyed a hugely successful festival in 2021 which delighted audiences and earned us five-star reviews. We feel emboldened. The festival offers such extraordinary variety: exciting and unusual operas, including a collaboration with the Salzburg State Theatre, a first-rate classical music series, a challenging, thought-provoking book festival and a revitalised jazz programme.”
Next up is Viva la Diva, Kit Hesketh-Harvey’s new English-language version of Donizetti’s Viva la mamma, or Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali (Conventions and Inconveniences of the Stage, 1831). It tells the story of an opera company trying to stage an opera, with all the attendant arguments, drama, egos and personality clashes. It centres on the aging Diva Agata. The Italian libretto was written by Domenico Gilardoni, adapted from Antonio Simeone Sografi’s plays Le convenienze teatrali (1794) and Le inconvenienze teatrali (1800).
The production is directed by Stephen Medcalf and conducted by Iwan Davies with the Northern Chamber Orchestra. It is designed by Yannis Thavoris, with choreography by Kate Watson.
Waterperry Festival Opera’s production of Jonathan Dove and Alisdair Middleton’s 2011 opera Mansfield Park will also be presented. Middleton’s libretto is based on Jane Austen’s novel of the same name. It tells the story of poor relation Fanny Price, who at the age of 10 is sent to live with her uncle, Sir Thomas Bertram, at his family estate, Mansfield Park.
BIF’s production of Hasse’s serenata Antonio e Cleopatra (1725) will take place at the Pavilion Arts Centre. With a libretto by Francesco Ricciardi, this two-act ‘mini opera’ features only the two title characters, the latter of which was written for famous castrato Farinelli. The opera will feature the stars of BIF’s Young Artists programme.
Finally, the festival features one performance of Violet by composer Tom Coult and writer Alice Birch, which will receive its world premiere at Aldeburgh Festival on 3 June 2022. The opera takes place in an isolated community which is controlled by the regularity of the town clock, until one night time quickens and an hour is lost every day. Trapped and stifled in an unhappy marriage, Violet senses that there is a new life waiting to be discovered and sets out to find it.
Cast details for all productions will be announced in March, with tickets on general sale 1 April. For full date and venue information, visit the Buxton International Festival website.
Buxton International Festival CEO Michael Williams said: “I don’t think there is another spa town in the world where you can breakfast with authors, take in a world-class recital after elevenses, enjoy an opera première or new musical before dinner and soak up some late-night jazz, all within a stone’s throw of each other. It’s an unbeatable 17 days of world-class entertainment.”
Buxton International Festival 2022 will feature five new or rarely performed operas among its line-up of musical and literary events.