Buxton Festival: David Barnard takes a top role

David Barnard.
David Barnard.

SHEFFIELD-based pianist David Barnard is heavily involved in the Buxton Festival this year after Stephen Barlow engaged him as repetiteur for the festival’s three in-house opera productions of Intermezzo, Kashchei the Immortal and The Maiden in the Tower.

He is also working as the new artistic director’s assistant, conducting rehearsals when he is not there, is playing in the orchestra for Intermezzo and the festival’s community opera, James and the Giant Peach.

A considerable amount of his time has been spent working with Janis Kelly as she prepared to take on the fiendishly difficult role of Christine in Intermezzo. Indeed, after one week of slog in London, the celebrated soprano came to Sheffield for the weekend to continue the preparation.

Intermezzo has been the 50th opera he has worked on since his repetiteur career began 12 years ago and he admits that Strauss’ complex score has been his biggest challenge so far.

It began for the extremely gifted 30 year-old Australian-born pianist with roots in Sheffield at the age of 18 in Adelaide where, after Mozart’s Così fan Tutte, his second opera was Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette conducted by a certain Stephen Barlow.

Hardly coincidence, perhaps, that he has hired David for the same duties in Buxton, or that the soprano singing Juliette, Kate Ladner, happens to be in the festival’s Rimsky-Korsakov/ Sibelius double bill.

An opera conductor and piano accompanist of international repute, not to mention composer, Barlow is well connected and knows the right people.