Friday, 8 July 2016

Article published in Manchester Evening News 8 July 2016

THE Buxton Festival is about to enter its first full week – and two visiting companies add their operas to the in-house productions of Leonore (Beethoven), I Capuleti E I Montecchi (Bellini) and Tamerlano (Handel).

On July 11 baroque specialists La Serenissima give a concert performance of La Sena Festeggiante, by Vivaldi. It’s a serenata (a hybrid of opera and cantata) and the result of collaboration between Vivaldi and a Neapolitan called Domenico Lalli, whose other claims to fame were as bigamist and embezzler.

It was composed to honour Louis XV of France in 1725 and has three singers. La Serenissima’s leader, Adrian Chandler, will direct from the violin.

On July 18 the visitors are Music Theatre Wales, with the UK premiere of The Golden Dragon, by Hungarian composer Peter Eötvös. It’s set in what seems very much like a Chinese restaurant, in ‘any city, anywhere’ and described as funny, shocking and touching in equal measure. Michael Rafferty of Music Theatre Wales conducts, and his long-time colleague Michael McCarthy directs.

In addition to the operas, there’s a wealth of classical music on offer. I asked festival artistic director Stephen Barlow what would be the stand-outs for him.

“We try to present a varied programme and to offer a platform for young artists just out of college and already winning prizes, as well as the big names,” he said.

“I don’t want to be unfair, but I’m thrilled that Angela Hewitt will be with us. To hear her, in Bach and Schubert, in the intimate setting of the Pavilion Arts Centre, will really be something (July 19, lunchtime). “And Stephen Kovacevich will be celebrating his 70th birthday (July 14, 3.30pm). I’m a pianist myself, and to have these two greats with us is something I’ll remember.

“I’m very pleased that soprano Anne-Sophie Duprels is singing (July 16, lunchtime). Her programme is Messiaen, Debussy and Satie, and when she sings in her own native French she goes into a completely different dimension.”

He also points to the appearance of baritone Roderick Williams (July 15, lunchtime) and chamber music from the Schubert Ensemble (July 18, lunchtime) and the Chilingirian (July 15, 3.30pm) and Elias String Quartets (July 10, 4pm).

“I talk to all the artists about their programmes, but the real joy is to persuade them to bring music they’re passionate about. We want people to come to Buxton and play from their hearts.”

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