Thursday, 19 July 2012

Cultural North: 'Well I'll Go To Buxton!'


THIS year's Buxton Festival that ends on July 25th, is a treasure trove of lesser-known works of opera.  Chris Draper, who writes in Northern Voices 13, never mentioned the Buxton Opera House in his feature 'Six O' the Best Northern Theatres'.   And yet, Buxton for these few weeks in July is the cultural capital of the North, even though it tends to be overshadowed by Glyndebourne and Edinburgh in Scotland.  Buxton describes itself as 'a happy marriage of music, opera and books'; it also includes talks on literary subjects together with recitals and chamber concerts.

The opera house, dating from 1903, has 900-seats and is in the centre of town near the central park.  The Festival is dominated by works of opera, and this year there is the Sibelius opera 'The Maiden in the Tower', the Strauss comedy 'Intermezzo', Handel's oratorio 'Jephtha', Mozart's 'Idomeneo' and Gluck's Iphigenia operas.  Handel's biblical drama is about the Israelite warrior Jephtha, who unwisely promises that if he is victorious he will sacrifice the first thing he sees on returning home.

There was a double bill chance to hear the Sibelious opera with Rimsky-Korsakov's 'Kashchei the Immortal'.  George Loomis in the Herald Tribune writes that the Sibelius opera 'lacks theatricality', but that 'Rimsky-Korskov's dramaturgical skills never seemed more potent than when "Kashchei" got going after the intermission'.  As well as these Buxton Festival productions there are some guest productions such as Metastasio's libretto 'L'Olimpiade', the plot of 'L'Olimpiade' involves a trick by an ancient Olympics contestant to get a better athlete to compete in his name with tragic results.

The printed version of NORTHERN VOICES 13, with all sorts of stuff others won't touch and may be obtained as follows:
Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included)
Cheques payable to 'Northern Voices' at
c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.

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