Saturday, 30 July 2016

Review of The Yeomen of the Guard, Buxton Opera House


It’s good that the Gilbert & Sullivan festival, though now removed from Buxton to Harrogate, lets its old home in on a bit of the action by sending its National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company there, at least for a few days.

I saw The Yeomen Of The Guard, my favourite of all the standard G&S operas. What I love about it is the sense that Sullivan is trying out some ideas for a model of English vernacular opera – more Romantic than most of his other collaborations with Gilbert – seeking the Holy Grail of a popular lyric style based on ‘traditional’ English music, as identified by Macfarren and others, but bringing in some of the qualities of his own time. At times it sounds almost like Dvorak. He took it a stage further with Ivanhoe, shortly afterwards (the opening production at what we now know as the Palace Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, then the new English Opera House), but alas found no real successor.

It’s also got a superb book in which Gilbert produces mock-Tudor dialogue that is still perfectly comprehensible, and a storyline with pathos – tragedy, even – mixed with comedy on an almost Shakespearean level. It’s a long way from the topsy-turvydom of much of the rest of popular G&S.

The result is a very fine series of second act numbers, and slightly grander operatic features in the overture and two act finales, than you get elsewhere. Director John Savournin responds to these with imagination, darkening the stage and stilling the silliness from time to time, and ending the opera with a curtain-call line-up minus bows or curtseys. The tears – and death – of a clown (in this case, the jester Jack Point, who finally loses his longed-for love, Elsie Maynard) are moving indeed when you’re forced to look them in the face.

Richard Gauntlett is a class act as Jack Point, though not quite the master of the patter song that some of his predecessors have been, but superb in the final scene. Jane Harrington, too, has a fine voice and presence as Elsie. Bruce Graham, a seasoned veteran of the G&S tradition, brings his clarity and stage sense to Shadbolt the jailer (who eventually gets his prize in Phoebe, beautifully acted and sung by Fiona Mackay). And the noble English tenor role of Fairfax is very well taken by Nicholas Sales, fitting it like a glove in Free From His Fetters Grim and elsewhere.

One thing Yeomen needs is a generous collection of principal talent, as there are two quartets with only the tenor role in common (Strange Adventure – beautifully sung with  English Vocal Union seriousness – and When A Wooer Goes A-Wooing) . Here they had the resources for it, and conductor David Steadman paced and phrased the score with a sure hand.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Article published in Manchester Evening News 29 July 2016

THERE are some highspot events this weekend and soon after for those who know what they like in classical music: the Hallé’s open-air extravaganza at Tatton Park tomorrow, their Last Night of the Proms at the Bridgewater Hall on Sunday, the Gilbert & Sullivan  Opera Company completing a visit to Buxton Opera House, and – more high-minded – the Lake District Summer Music festival getting going in Cumbria.

But I’d like to look back to an outstanding opera performance of the immediate past. You never quite know what’s coming in the context of established annual routines, but this year’s full-length summer production from Clonter Opera of La Traviata (by Verdi) was of very high quality.

It had an intelligent and imaginative production by Christopher Cowell, with design by Eleanor Wdowski, placing the story in early 20th century Vienna – and two very gifted singers in the principal roles.

Cowell’s re-timing worked well: early 20th century Vienna was as much a place of surface glitter and underlying sickness as Dumas’ Paris in The Lady of the Camellias, the novel on which La Traviata is based.

It was also a society in which you could expect to meet the poet or artist alongside members of the moneyed minor aristocracy, social butterflies and ladies of ill repute. The story was told fairly straightforwardly against this background, and Wdowski’s glistening golden backdrop accompanied every scene, with a change of stage properties enough to show each shift of location.

The small cast – Clonter Opera is essentially a training ground for young singers – provided excellent ensemble sound, with music director Clive Timms and his small but top-quality orchestra in the pit backing them up with skill and style.

The stand-out was the soprano Marlena Devoe (Violetta). She has everything a young opera star needs: lovely tone in every register, flexibly and sensitively used to serve her role, and outstanding acting ability.

And Peter Aisher, as Alfredo, is a tenor with that powerful top sound that Italian operatic heroes need. He, too, is an instinctive actor who made the diffident young man swept up in passion seem real.

Christopher Cowell no doubt contributed much to these performances – I loved the way the ‘false start’ introduction to the Act One toast song was made into Alfredo nearly bottling out of doing it altogether, and then finding his courage – but it takes top performers to make these things live.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Manchester Evening News article 22 July 2016

THE Buxton Festival is almost over, but now is a good chance to look back on the outstanding events of the only home-producing opera festival we get in the north west of England. Under artistic direction by conductor Stephen Barlow (who happens to be married to Ab Fab star Joanna Lumley), it’s achieving remarkable things.

There were three in-house opera productions this year: Beethoven’s Leonore, Bellini’s I Capuleti E I Montecchi, and Handel’s Tamerlano (the last a co-production with The English Concert).

I talked to Stephen about Leonore, Beethoven’s first version of what we know as Fidelio, a few weeks ago, and he was thrilled to be presenting a work he says is on fire with inspiration. It’s longer than the later score, so there’s music in it we never normally hear, and much of that is very beautiful – but is it better? I think the answer is a mix of yes and no … but it was well worth the trouble of mounting what is a pretty big opera in any terms, and director Stephen Medcalf and the whole team should be thanked for it.

The Bellini was more straightforward in that it’s a singers’ show – find really good voices and forget dramatic realism (it’s Romeo And Juliet, but an economy version with a greatly simplified plot and a duet for the star-cross’d lovers before they die). But – as well as fabulous singers – it had an imaginative production by Harry Fehr and a sure hand in conductor Justin Doyle.

Best of all, however, was the Handel. It’s a remarkably modern opera story, about an inhumanely merciless and capricious warlord and the defeated Turkish leader and his daughter whom he plays off against another vassal prince. Treachery and murder hover constantly in the air, and if you have a convincing couple of young hero and heroine, and a strong cast all round, it works powerfully despite two high men’s voices (to our ears).

With Paul Nilon as the defeated sultan, Marie Lys as Asteria, his daughter, and Owen Willetts as her lover, this was classy casting and the stand-out of the festival.

The whole production, by Francis Matthews, was distinguished by a restrained use of baroque performance techniques in movement as well as musical realisation, which for me made it all the more interesting.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Stephen Kovacevich, Buxton Festival

STEPHEN KOVACEVICH, Buxton Festival, The Pavilion arts centre

Almost every description of the piano playing of Stephen Kovacevich includes the word ‘thoughtful’. And they’re right – from the very first note, in his recital for the Buxton Festival, it was clear how thoughtful his playing is.

He began with the sonata by Alban Berg – his opus 1 and really an essay in high chromaticism and single-movement form – and wove his spell with it in every part. The writing is extremely taxing, full of counterpoint and whimsical harmonic progressions, and it was not entirely flawless. But the sound of the Fazioli piano was clear and resonant and complemented Kovacevich’s still-clear and enviable technique.

He followed it with Schubert’s A major sonata from the end of his career, D959 – a Kovacevich speciality and delivered with mastery. He presents it as a series of falterings and hesitations, a kind of window on the composer’s psychology (including the extraordinary slow movement, which he described in a brief chat as having almost a nervous breakdown inside the music). But it was still beautiful music, and his great dynamic range ensured a sense of magic and discovery throughout the recital.

He abandoned the interval and went straight on to his Bach – Partita no. 4, BWV828 – which was pure delight, with immaculate part playing and a genuinely dancing minuet. Where there were repeats observed, they were always astonishingly varied.

But I think it was the Schubert he really wanted to share, as the recital was soon over, with just the Brahms E minor Intermezzo as a quiet encore.

Article published in Manchester Evening News 15 July 2016

A MUSICAL exchange for young orchestral players that began in Bolton 30 years ago reaches its triumphant milestone at the Royal Northern College of Music on July 19.

The International Youth Philharmonic is the name of the project, which began in 1986 as a cultural exchange, with student musicians staying with each other’s families in Bolton, Paderborn (in Germany) and Le Mans (in France). Its 30th anniversary concert will have the same programme as the first one did: Walton’s Crown Imperial coronation march, Ravel’s Bolero and Mahler’s Symphony no. 1.

Caroline Baxendale, head of Bolton Music Service and the Greater Manchester Manchester Music Hub based there – who was awarded the MBE in the New Year Honours this year – told me:

“We will form an orchestra of around 120 players from Paderborn and Bolton (Le Mans dropped out after the first six years of the exchange, but there are hopes of including them again eventually).

“The students from Paderborn come here and spend a week in Bolton rehearsing for the concert – usually held in Bolton itself – then on the day after they all go on the ferry from Hull to Rotterdam and travel to Paderborn to give the concert there.” This year it will be the opening event of the traditional Libori Festival there, which dates back nearly 1,200 years.

Caroline Baxendale was herself one of the violinists in the Bolton Youth Orchestra back in 1986 and took part in the exchange then, and other musicians who teach for the Music Service now were originally members of the exchange orchestra as students. Other former members have gone further afield, including one who is now principal horn of the San Francisco Philharmonic.

“You don’t get many exchange projects of any kind that have been running for 30 years,” she says. “It’s an inspiring experience and helps students to find a real love for orchestral music. And it involves the wider community, too, as they stay with the families of their counterparts in each host town.

“New generations have the chance to take part each year, and this year’s student players are really looking forward to it.”

Conductors for the concert are Stuart Hazelton, from the Bolton end, and Jürgen Boelsen from Paderborn, who will share duties in both venues. The performance is at 7pm in the Royal Northern College of Music concert hall.

Review of Tamerlano, Buxton Festival

TAMERLANO, Buxton Festival, Buxton Opera House

Handel’s Tamerlano, in a co-production by Buxton Festival and The English Concert, is the best of the festival’s operas this year.

It’s been criticised for its dramaturgy, in Francis Matthews’ production, but I think that criticism is misplaced. Granted it is one of Handel’s most intimate operas, all set in a claustrophobic inner sanctum of the evil warlord who gives the opera its name – the Royal Northern College of Music did it as a studio production some years ago and that worked superbly – but the intimacy is preserved here, and the single-set, multi-period presentation (design by Adrian Linford) serves it well. We should be used to such things by now.

A set including furniture and decorations that could have been assembled from a quick scour of Buxton’s bric-a-brac stalls is nothing to be ashamed of: I expect the Tamburlaine of Handel and Haym’s imagination would have tastelessly looted the spoils of his conquered territories to take home in a very similar way.

Maybe the opening tableau showing Tamerlano the Tartar conquering the Turkish sultan Bajazet during the second part of the overture was a bit superfluous (just read the programme notes), but it was soon forgotten. I did wonder why the captive was housed inside a telephone booth, but that, too, quickly drifted into amnesis.

The opera is surprisingly close to modern concepts in its presentation of the conqueror as a hideously inhumane monster (and the Turk as a man of honour), and merciless, capricious manipulation of those within the ambit of power rings many bells with us. Rupert Enticknap, as Tamerlano, was completely up to the vocal demands of the high voice role, though it can also be a gift for an actor who exploits the freakiness of it to emphasize its moral monstrousness.

But the three heroic characters – Paul Nilon as Bajazet, Marie Lys as his daughter, Asteria, and Owen Willetts as Andronico, who loves her – were wonderfully acted and sung.

I wasn’t sure at first about Paul Nilon’s timbre for music of this period, but his sheer stage presence and passion won me over, and he had the stamina, too, saving his best singing for the end, with a moving Figlia mia.

Marie Lys proved herself a singer of impressive range and real passion from the start, and found the dimension of feistiness in her role as noble daughter – the father-daughter relationship is one that’s rarely explored with such truthfulness and emotional power in opera of this period, and she and Nilon caught it well.

Owen Willetts is a magnificent counter-tenor, and reached real heights of expressive technical power in No, che del tuo gran cor. I particularly enjoyed his Più d’una tigre altero, and the duet with Asteria, Vivo in te, was glorious (even in its joint cadenza).

Catherine Hopper, as the scheming Irene who finally gets the throne she wanted, sang with warmth and command, and Robert Davies (Leone, the noble courtier) brought a lovely rich baritone (his Nel mondo e nell’abisso an early highlight).

A feature of the production is a limited amount of stylish movement, and one expression of masked dumb-show, which I take to be provided to capture something of the staging style of the opera’s original period. It was well executed, even if Tamerlano appears at the beginning to be doing his tai chi as he gets up in the morning.

The music, under the direction of Laurence Cummings with The English Concert orchestra in the pit, is done with real distinction – and the singers give us enough authentic-style display to spark interest and vary the da capo repeats (and in Asteria and Andronico’s case, to climax a love scene), but without pedantic fussiness. That’s a plus point indeed.


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Review of La Sena Festeggiante, Buxton Festival

LA SENA FESTEGGIANTE, Buxton Festival, Buxton Opera House
Adrian Chandler’s tireless work in reviving glorious music by Vivaldi (and others) bore fruit in a beautifully executed performance of the Red Priest’s serenata, La Sena Festeggiante, by specialist ensemble La Serenissima and three top-class soloists in the Buxton Festival.
The piece is effectively an extended cantata, with introductions, recitatives, arias and a final tutti to each of two halves, celebrating Louis XV for the French community in Venice, probably in 1726. There’s no scenery or action, but the soloists are allegorical figures and the text, though a completely over-the-top orgy of obsequious boot-licking to our ears, has a certain charm in its elaborate contrivances.
The fount of it all is the figure of the River Seine in Paris, and bass singer Henry Waddington made a magnificent job of personifying this Ol’ Man River of the 18th century, characterful and demonstrative in his recitatives and eloquent in his arias.
The spirit of The Golden Age was represented by soprano Gillian Keith (a good friend of the Buxton Festival), and her aria comparing herself to a nightingale, with its imitative effects in both ritornello and voice part, was a charmer. The other figure is Virtue, and Hilary Summers’ pure and even contralto matched the role perfectly, especially since Vivaldi was clearly determined to show that the Devil does not have all the best tunes, in this context.
The two girls also made a lovely tonal blend in their duets. It’s entertainment music, made to lend a bit of class to a posh celebration, and Adrian Chandler’s merry band, bringing out the sheer bounce and élan of Vivaldi’s inspiration, delivered that in spades.


Review of 'Bosnian Voices', Buxton Festival

ENSEMBLE 10/10, Buxton Festival, St John’s Church, Buxton

Clark Rundell brought his Liverpool Philharmonic based new music group, Ensemble 10/10, back to Buxton for a memorable concert in the bright acoustic of St John’s Church.

I missed the world premiere they gave last November of Bosnian Voices, the new song cycle by Nigel Osborne (it was repeated a day later at St George’s Hall in Liverpool), so it was a discovery to hear it performed again in this year’s Buxton Festival. It’s a moving and genuinely beautiful work – an arrangement, as Osborne says, of original songs written by youngsters and others in the area of Srebrenica looking back 20 years to the horrific genocidal conflict that befell their country. He’s been committed to humanitarian work in that place for years and comes to the task with integrity, which has been reflected in his music already more than once.

There are seven songs, of different natures, all sung by a mezzo soloist – Florieke Beelen this time – with accompaniment of string quintet, flute, clarinets, horn and percussion, but Osborne’s claim ‘I’m just an arranger’ before the event is self-deprecation. He’s supplied a haunting opening and postlude with a long vocalise, and skilfully varies the style and instrumentation of the songs, ending the earlier ones, in particular in a mid-air way which is telling in itself.

There’s fun, too, in the ‘gipsy’ idiom of The Golden Ship, written with some Roma children among others, the nearly-English-pastoral background, complete with ruminative horn solo, to the one about riding a bicycle in the open air, and rattling rhythmic ostinati of the songs composed by pop group musicians.

There’s also desperately under-stated sadness in Time, Life and I, the song by women gang-raped during the war who still have seen no justice.

Some music lives because it captures the essence of a time-rooted reality, good or evil, and this is one of those. I hope it will live long.


Sunday, 10 July 2016

Review of I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Buxton Festival

In both Leonore and this, the set (Francis O’Connor for Leonore, Yannis Thavoris for I Capuleti) sensibly encloses the stage, reflecting sound out of it. And in I Capuleti e i Montecchi what lovely sounds! It’s a bel canto opera, and in Stephanie Marshall (Romeo) and Sarah-Jane Brandon (Giuletta) Buxton has hired voices fit for purpose. Their voices shone individually and blended in their duets, from the great first act climax, with exciting and poised singing from both and cadenzas as skilfully acted as sung (no stopping to think about the notes here). The latter demonstrated excellent control of mezza voce and real emotional presence, and the former was in warm, full voice through to the final scene.

There are only three other principals in this version of the story (we begin where Romeo has killed Juliet’s brother, and the two families are at daggers – and pistols – drawn). Jonathan Best sang Capellio (Giuletta’s father) with his customary incisiveness and dominance of the stage; Luis Gomes brought an unstrained high tenor timbre to Tebaldo (the man she’s meant to marry); Lorenzo is both priest and soldier and, though something of a stooge to Capellio in plot terms, was finely sung by Julian Tovey.

Justin Doyle – shortly to become chief conductor and artistic director of the RIAS Kammerchor and well known for his work with Opera North and elsewhere – piloted the opera with a sure hand, with flexible and energetic rhythms and some beautiful instrumental solos from the NCO (the principal horn and harp in Giuletta’s O quante volte, in particular). The festival male chorus were again very strong, and well abetted by more girls in uniform.

Harry Fehr’s gifts as director are not new to us in this part of the country. He sets the opera in the present day in some Balkanised, divided nation where warlords rule, and provides movement and action whenever the score requires it (and, in its leisurely cavatina introductions such as the one for Romeo’s Crudel Lorenzo, it does), and sometimes as a bonus.

There’s a very good fight for Romeo and Tebaldo (Paul Benzing), and these star-cross’d lovers know how to die while singing like angels.

Review of Leonore, Buxton Festival

Leonore is the original version of the opera Fidelio, which Beethoven created nine years after his original three-acter, and which we know better today.

So the case for doing the long one must surely be that there’s wonderful music in it that deserves to get a hearing. Festival artistic director (and conductor) Stephen Barlow believes that – he’s not the only maestro to think so, and he’s done it before – and he and director Stephen Medcalf also aver it has a better claim to work as drama.

I think they have a point. The later Fidelio always seems to lurch from domestic comedy to high-minded rescue drama too early on, and Beethoven’s original gave him more opportunity to develop the Jacquino-Marzelline-Leonore-Rocco relationship in its own right, and to do it in a half-comic, half-serious, Mozartian way.

There’s a duet for Marzelline and Jacquino (Jetzt, jetzt) which is very fine – as she measures up various noble prisoners for their dungeon garb – and a remarkable trio with Rocco which hints at dimensions of tragedy impending. Mir ist so wunderbar becomes a climactic pivot in its own right.

On the other hand, we get a duet for Marzelline and Leonore, with solo violin obbligato, which goes on a bit (and was not played particularly well on the first night); Komm’ Hoffnung is introduced by a less effective passage than Abscheulicher! in the later version; and the denouement is extended with a finale, allowing a crisis of confidence for the happy couple after O namenlose Freude!, which diminishes the effect of Don Fernando’s arrival and setting all to rights.

Still, on balance, the case for Leonore is proved. Medcalf has gone one better than that, though. He thinks the whole opera is a fantasy about Beethoven’s inner life. During the overture (Leonore no. 2, as used in 1805) we see the composer at his fortepiano, struggling with his Heiligenstadt predicament and his ear-trumpet and dreaming of a woman’s love; that violin obbligato is played by Leonore on a fiddle she happens to have with her; later, when Rocco is digging a grave in the dungeon, we’re among the detritus of the composer’s thwarted dreams. Then freedom for Florestan equals redemption for Ludwig: art and Das ewig Weibliche triumph together, and blow me, half the soldiers turn out to have been prisoners’ wives in disguise, and they’ve ALL come to free their guys. Girl power, eh?

Hmm – it’s pretty surreal in the end. But then, maybe that’s the story of the opera. The singers are a strong team, with young David Danholt making an extremely good impression as Florestan and Kirstin Sharpin bringing a big voice and control over most of it to Leonore. Hrólfur Sæmundsson sang Pizarro with some good tone and bad-guy relish (getting panto-style boos at the curtain call), and Scott Wilde’s emphatic Rocco was much appreciated (though a bit raw near the top of the range).

Of them all, I liked Kristy Swift’s feisty Marzelline most for her comic acting and flexible soprano, and Stuart Laing made a reasonable fist of the hapless Jacquino. Jonathan Best gave some gravity to Don Fernando.

Stephen Barlow drew generally excellent playing from the Northern Chamber Orchestra, whose sound fills this lovely small opera house ideally, and the chorus, with its large extra male contingent, sang very well (trainer Matthew Morley).

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.”

Friday, 1 July 2016

Article published in Manchester Evening News 1 July 2016

IT’S Buxton Festival time again – based on original productions of operas at the High Peak town’s lovely Matcham-designed Edwardian theatre. Buxton has always delivered entertaining and imaginative productions of opera of a kind we don’t get anywhere else in the north west, and this year it’s offering a fascinating rarity … by Beethoven.

Beethoven wrote one opera: Fidelio. Right? Yes – but that was the 1814 version of one he first composed, under the title of Leonore, in 1805. It didn’t have a good opening night: the French had invaded Vienna, and its story about people struggling under the yoke of oppression didn’t go down well, either with the cowed locals or the nervous occupiers.

The composer tried a stripped-down version the following year, which didn’t do any better. But Buxton Festival artistic director Stephen Barlow (who will conduct) and director Stephen Medcalf believe the original version – even though often forgotten in favour of the Fidelio of 1814 – is well worth performing.

“When he wrote it, Beethoven was obviously on fire with the idea of a staged drama,” says Stephen Barlow. “He was just aglow with inspiration.

“There’s more music, and more drama, in the first act than in the 1814 Fidelio, and it’s where Beethoven has most in common with Mozart – he was inspired by his example of what orchestration and dramatic instinct could do in pointing up simple psychological dilemmas. It’s music to die for, it’s so beautiful.

“And there’s a slightly different slant to the whole story, as it becomes a celebration of the common man, rather than a paean of praise to the idea of married faithfulness. We’ve tried to make it clear that this piece is about society, and how things can be made good in the end, more than about an abstract concept.”

Stephen Barlow is one of the few conductors to have presented the opera on stage, as he conducted it in a production by Graham Vick, in Battigliano in the late 1980s. It has also been recorded by such luminaries as John Eliot Gardiner and Herbert Blomstedt … but Buxton is seeing something very special this year (July 8, 12, 15, 19 and 22, Buxton Opera House).

The other home-produced operas in the festival are Bellini’s I Capuleti E I Montecchi –Romeo And Juliet under another name – on July 9, 13, 16 and 23, and Handel’s Tamerlano (July 10, 14, 17 and 21).