Buxton International Festival

Buxton International Festival
Photo: buxtonfestival.co.uk
The Buxton International Festival, also known as simply the Buxton Festival, is an annual summer festival of opera, music and literature held in the spa town of Buxton, Derbyshire, England. It is recognized as one of the UK’s leading arts festivals.

The Buxton Festival was inspired by the restoration of the Buxton Opera House. The building was designed by Frank Marcham, a famous theatrical architect, and opened on 1903. It ran as a successful theater until 1927, when it was turned into a cinema. After the Second World War, the Opera House gradually fell into disrepair and was closed in 1976. Despite rumors that it would never reopen, the restored theater with a new orchestra pit opened in 1979 and became the venue for the first Buxton Festival.

The Buxton Festival was conceived by conductor Anthony Hose (then Head of Music at Welsh National Opera) and Malcolm Fraser, a lecturer in Opera at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. As soon as the renovation of the Opera House began, they envisioned the building as the home of an annual opera festival that would bring together opera connoisseurs from all over the UK. While the building was being restored, they spend three years planning the event.

The inaugural Buxton Festival opened with a production of Gaetano Donizetti’s tragic opera Lucia di Lammermoor based on the historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor by Sir Walter Scott. It was the first complete performance of this opera in the United Kingdom. Since its inception, the Buxton International Festival has become one of the largest opera festivals in the UK and arguably in the world. It is noted for featuring new productions of rarely performed operas such as The Little Sweep by Benjamin Britten, Il matrimonio segreto (The Secret Marriage) by Domenico Cimarosa and Griselda by Antonio Vivaldi.

Originally conceived as an opera festival, the Buxton Festival has expanded its program to include a wide array of performances by musicians and vocalists. The festival showcases solo performers, string quartets, chamber ensembles and orchestras, vocal groups, and more. Since 2000, the festival has been featuring literature alongside opera and music. The Buxton Festival’s literary program includes meetings with authors, book presentations and signings, discussions, seminars, round tables, talks, lectures, readings, and other events.

The Buxton International Festival usually runs over two weeks in July. It offers a packed two-week program with ticket sales of over 40,000. Literary events take place in the mornings and are followed by concerts and recitals in the afternoons and operas in the evenings.

Buxton Festival

Photo: buxtonfestival.co.uk



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