Buxton Festival opens with rave reviews for new opera productions

Buxton International Festival opened with the premiere of the highly anticipated new musical The Land of Might-Have-Been. This years festival offers a ‘knockout’ line-up of opera, jazz, music and books with more than 120 events over 17 days running until 23rd July – many of them already sold out!

Festival highlights include three new opera productions, Vincenzo Bellini’s La sonnambula, GF Handel’s Orlando and Mozart’s Il re pastore. BIF and Norwich Theatre launch a brand-new musical based on the early life of Buxton’s Vera Brittain, with music by Ivor Novello, entitled The Land Of Might-Have-Been. The jazz line-up includes the iconic trumpeter Wynton Marsalis plus pianist/vocalist Tom Seals and The Super Big Tramp Band. The concerts’ programme features Nicola Benedetti and The English Concert, The King’s Singers, Sarah Connolly, Lucy Crowe, Joanna MacGregor and Gwilym Simcock. The books guests include playwright Sir David Hare, Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller, BBC correspondent Jeremy Bowen, MP Jesse Norman, vaccine queen Dame Kate Bingham, writer, communicator and strategist Alastair Campbell and journalists Gary Younge and Polly Toynbee amongst others.

Commenting Adrian Kelly, BIF’s artistic director said: “Buxton International Festival has firmly established itself in the cultural calendar. It’s an unapologetically ambitious, creative and accessible festival that takes risks and entertains. 2023 will be no different – bold, brave and back in full technicolour.”

CEO Michael Williams adds: “It’s a stop-in-your-tracks, shout-from-the-rooftops festival this year. Buxton 2023 is full to the brim with daring and excellence. It’s contemporary, relevant, reflective and provocative with sumptuous opera, glorious music and opinion-forming book talks. We reach for the stars in Buxton, make no mistake.”

New musical based on early life of Vera Brittain, The Land of Might-Have-Been

Buxton International Festival and Norwich Theatre launch a ground-breaking new co-production for 2023, ‘The Land Of Might-Have-Been’ (7-22 July, Buxton Opera House). This bold new musical is built around the songs of Ivor Novello and is loosely based on incidents in the early life of Buxton’s pioneering feminist and pacifist Vera Brittain and the intriguing lives, loves and motivations of those closest to her.

The Land Of Might-Have-Been, with book and lyrics by Michael Williams, follows on from the success of another Buxton-inspired triumph, Williams’ award-winning opera, Georgiana. It will be directed by Kimberley Sykes, conducted by Iwan Davies, designed by Nicky Shaw with the music of Ivor Novello, including such lovely songs as My Dearest Dear, Waltz of My Heart, My Life Belongs To you and Why Is There Ever Goodbye, arranged with additional composition by Iain Farrington. Farrington has recently been commissioned to write a piece for His Majesty The King’s Coronation.

Buxton’s classical music programme celebrates the UK’s most acclaimed musicians

Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti and The English Concert (10 July) perform Vivaldi in Buxton Opera House, pianist Paul Lewis (19 July) presents the first two parts of a four-part Schubert programme (to be completed in 2024). Joanna McGregor (14 July) returns with a programme that showcases her inimitable flair from Bach to Piazzolla. Another of the country’s leading pianists, Peter Donohoe, appears alongside clarinettist Sacha Rattle (18 July) with the juxtaposition of late Brahms and early Berg. Dame Shirley J Thompson, who has written a work for His Majesty The King’s Coronation, brings her one-woman opera, Women of the Windrush, sung by lyric soprano Nadine Benjamin (21 July).

Other chamber music highlights include Festival favourites the Sacconi Quartet (12 July), the award-winning Sitkovetsky Trio (11 July), The Solis and Paddington Trios (13 July) and the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective (19 July).

The festival takes place 6th – 23rd July 2023. Ticket bookings can made online or you can book with the Box Office at Buxton Opera House in person or over the phone.

Buxton International Festival, 3 The Square, Buxton, SK17 6AZ

T: 01298 72190 Box Office (Bookings) / 01298 70395 Festival Office (Information only)


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