The 19th International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival opens in the exquisitely beautiful Buxton Opera House on Saturday 28 July with a three-week programme that includes fifty full-scale performances in the historic Frank Matcham designed Edwardian theatre and the newly refurbished Pavilion Arts Centre located just next door.
It really is a festival “fit for a Queen” and appropriately celebrates the Diamond Jubilees of both Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. The festivities begin with a truly Victorian theme – celebrating her Diamond Jubilee of 1897 and the era to which Gilbert & Sullivan made such a wonderful and lasting contribution. “Queen Victoria” will arrive by coach and horses supported by a full entourage of “living historians” suitably attired for the occasion. There will be Victorian demonstrations; a nostalgic return of the Good Old Days Music Hall; performances of Merrie England by Matlock G&S, and author Ian Bradley will discuss the music that
Sullivan was commissioned to write for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. There will be lots of “living history” during a display of life in Victorian times and it will all culminate in The Buxton Proms – A Regular Royal Gala in the Opera House on Sunday evening 29 July starring Richard Suart and Jill Pert with an augmented National Festival Orchestra conducted by Timothy Henty.
The Festival’s own, highly acclaimed professional Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company will perform four brand new productions during the three weeks – The Mikado, directed by Simon Butteriss; HMS Pinafore directed by Cav. Vivian Coates; The Gondoliers directed by Jeff Clarke and the first fully staged professional production of The Grand Duke to be performed in the UK since its original run in 1896 will be directed by Andrew Nicklin.
There is a warm welcome waiting for Fraser Valley Stage travelling all the way from British Columbia, Canada with their production of HMS Pinafore. From South Africa, Cape Town G&S Society will bring their production of The Yeomen of the Guard with a cast of over fifty and also competing for the Festival’s coveted International Champion’s trophy are an additional ten fantastic societies from the length and breadth of the UK. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
Festival Chairman Ian Smith is delighted at the massive response he has received from young people who will bring a range of productions to Buxton. Universities around the world are performing G & S on a regular basis. Students from Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester and Southampton Universities will all perform fully-staged shows in the Pavilion Arts Centre along with the Festival’s popular Youth Production, Stage by Stage from Exeter and North West Productions from Liverpool.
He says, “We hear so many negative comments about our youngsters. I just wish more people could see the enthusiasm, talent and hard work that our young performers put into the shows they produce. I am more than delighted to see so many young people enjoying Gilbert & Sullivan. We are also pleased to welcome students from the Hungarian University of Music who will perform an Operetta Gala on 1 August . It should be very special”.
There is a fringe programme packed with new and exciting productions, lectures and talks. The world premiere of The Time Traveller will take place on 6 August and there is much anticipation for festival goers to see the professional, gothic interpretation of Ruddigore performed in Spanish by Egos Theatre from Barcelona. Buxton beware.
Nowhere in the world is there a festival that competes. Buxton Opera House stage staff are already in training for early morning “get-ins” and late evening “get-outs” which have to be seen to be believed.
Come rain or shine, the magic of Gilbert and Sullivan will ensure Festival visitors leave with a smile on their face. It’s fun, it’s friendly and it’s for all the family.
Box Office: 0845 1272190 Online bookings: www.buxtonoperahouse.org
Festival HQ: www.gsfestivals.org
Direct tel: 01303-226050
Janet Smith: email@example.com
Tel: 01422 323252
With Best Regards,