Festival loved by Sheffielders is on par with capital cities after opera triumph

"The people of Sheffield have always been very enthusiastic supporters of the Buxton International Festival", said Mark Sutherland.He spoke after the festival won a place in the arts world on a par with two of the UK’s capital cities after being chosen to showcase a new work by one of Britain’s finest contemporary musicians.

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 6:09 pm
Buxton Opera House.
Buxton Opera House.

The Peak District town’s annual feast of music, literature and politics has been chosen for the first live production of a new opera, Dido’s Ghost, following its online premiere in London’s Barbican and before its run in Edinburgh.

The Festival (known as BIF) which runs from July 8 to 25 on a socially distanced basis to meet current Government guidelines, is one of the first major arts events in the region scheduled to open as Covid restrictions relax, and organisers are looking forward to returning to Buxton’s magnificent Opera House after the pandemic forced the event to miss a year for the first time since it began in 1979.

It features the most promising rising stars in the arts world, as well as prominent international singers, artists and literary figures performing in a packed summer programme of more than 120 events over a 17-day period to an audience of over 30,000.

Errollyn Dido's Ghost.

Mark, a BIF board member who lives in Sheffield, added: “We estimate that around a quarter of ticket sales come from the South Yorkshire region. I know many Sheffielders who travel the 30 miles to Buxton every July for world-class opera, music and book events.

“BIF is very much our local summer opera festival! The festival provides a fantastic complement to the whole wealth of brilliant music making in Sheffield served up by Music in the Round and Classical Sheffield."

“BIF is returning to the UK stage after lockdown with its trademark ambition for producing ground-breaking works, and being one of the co-commissioners of Dido’s Ghost is a perfect example of that,” added chief executive Michael Williams.

“We are proud to have been recognised as one of the best places to unveil new work by new artists, and this is a wonderful vindication of the support which we have received from many sources, including the Government, to bring live music back to Buxton.”

Buxton Opera House.

Dido’s Ghost was composed by Errollyn Wallen CBE, who this year received the Incorporated Society of Musicians Distinguished Musician Award.

Continuing BIF’s tradition of presenting rare opera, 2021 sees Handel’s tale from Ovid of Acis and Galatea; a retelling of the Cinderella story in Viardot’s Cendrillon and Malcolm Arnold’s modern version of The Dancing Master, once rejected by the BBC as “too bawdy for family audiences.”

Broadway comes to Buxton as the festival tries something new with A Little Night Music, Stephen Sondheim’s musical comedy which features his poignant classic Send in the Clowns, and a charity gala called Strictly Musical, which features songs from the shows by giants including Leonard Bernstein. The book programme has Westminster burst into Buxton by bringing top insiders such as Andrew Marr and Spectator journalist Isabel Hardman to discuss their latest books.