Operatic offerings for Buxton event

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A double bill of obscure one-act French operas and a comparatively little known Mozart opera are the flagship operatic offerings in this year’s Buxton Festival, which opens in a month’s time, on July 7.

Gounod’s La Colombe, concerning an Italian countess (jealous of a rival’s parrot) trying to acquire a dove (colombe) before it becomes a roast lunch, has been produced previously at the festival, in 1983.

Not so, Saint-Saëns’s La Princesse Jaune (The Yellow Princess), a hallucinatory tale about a Dutch chap’s fixation on a Japanese girl in a painting. You can search for the proverbial haystack needle for a performance of this down the years!

Less hard to come by, Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera (The Feigned Gardener) is probably the most often encountered of his early operas and receives five performances, as does the double bill.

One of the better known of André Messager’s 17 tuneful stage works, Fortunio (a complex French farce!), gets two outings in a Grange Park Opera production and early opera specialists La Serenissima return with two of Vivaldi’s Ottone in Villa.

An opera gala of Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, Massenet and Rossini conducted by festival artistic director Stephen Barlow features two of the country’s most acclaimed singers, soprano Claire Rutter and baritone Stephen Gadd.

In the realms of music theatre and other one-offs, a contemporary double bill of Salvatore Sciarrino’s The Killing Flower and Peter Maxwell Davies’s Eight Songs for a Mad King is presented by Music Theatre Wales. And Britten’s three church parables – Curlew River, Prodigal Son, Burning Fiery Furnace – can be seen over two nights in touring productions with James Gilchrist (who has a recital elsewhere in the festival) taking the Peter Pears roles.

Among daytime music activity are two performances of Poulenc’s La Voix Humane from Anne Sophie Duprels (in the Saint-Saëns opera) with Pascal Rogé.

A handful of late night jazz concerts include two with violinist/ vocalist Lizzie Ball, well known locally in recent times, with the James Pearson Trio – Pearson is current artistic director and house pianist at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.

Top names in a line up of speakers for the literary series are the Duke of Devonshire, Paddy Ashdown, Roy Hattersley, Ann Widecombe, Antonia Fraser, Sandi Toksvig, Nick Robinson, Jeremy Bowen, Julia Bradbury and Melvyn Bragg.

Full details of the Buxton Festival can be found on the festival’s website.