HistoryIn 1976, Malcolm Fraser, on a family outing to Buxton, spotted a run-down (but ornate) building showing the film Jaws, with the words ‘Opera House’ above the door. Fraser, a lecturer in Opera at the Royal Northern College of Music, had a vision of this building (designed by the legendary Frank Matcham) as the home of an annual opera festival. With the help of a friend, Welsh National Opera conductor Anthony Hose, he set about putting his dream into action.

This spark was to lead to the regeneration of the Opera House, following a campaign headed by local residents Margaret Millican and Michael Williams.

In 1979, the first Buxton Festival was staged. The Festival continues to go from strength to strength, refreshing the repertoire with rarely performed operas by popular composers, and with a celebrated programme of music recitals and literary talks.

Buxton Festival Operas 1979–2014

* visiting productions
† community opera
‡ concert performance

1979 Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti), The Two Fiddlers (Maxwell Davies)†
1980 Hamlet (Thomas), Beatrice and Benedict (Berlioz), Cinderella (Maxwell Davies)†
1981 Il matrimonio segreto (Cimarosa), Let’s make an opera (Britten)†
1982 Háry János (Kodály), The Spinning Room (Kodály), Nightingale (Strouse)†
1983 Griselda (Vivaldi), La colombe (Gounod), James and the Giant Peach (Chappell)†
1984 Médée (Cherubini), Jason (Cavalli), Robin Hood (Kay)†
1985 La buona figliuola (Piccinni), Il filosofo di campagna (Galuppi), David and Goliath (Read)
1986 King Arthur (Purcell), Ariodante (Handel), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Blackford), The Ring for Children (Caggiano)†
1987 Il Pigmalione (Donizetti), L’occasione fa il ladro (Rossini), Don Quixote in Sierra Morena (Conti), Master Peter’s Puppet Show (de Falla)
1988 Armida (Haydn), Torquato Tasso (Donizetti), Help, Help the Globolinks (Menotti)
1989 L’italiana in Londra (Cimarosa), Il pittor parigino (Cimarosa), Double Bill: Il maestro di cappella (Cimarosa)/ Peter and the Wolf (Prokofiev)
1990 Tancredi (Rossini), Triple Bill: Le Huron (Grétry)/ Catnapper (Copland)/ The Princess, the Poet and the Pagliacci Man (Werner)
1991 The Abduction from the Seraglio (Mozart), Double Bill: The Impresario/ Il sogno di Scipione (Mozart), The Black Spider (Weir)†
1992 Agrippina (Handel), The Italian Girl in Algiers (Rossini)
1993 Maria Stuarda (Donizetti), The Secret Marriage (Cimarosa)
1994 Il re pastore (Mozart), Double Bill: Gianni Schicchi (Puccini)/ I pagliacci (Leoncavallo)*
1995 The Return of Ulysses to his Homeland (Monteverdi), The Turn of the Screw (Britten)
1996 Amadigi (Handel)*, The Beggar’s Opera (Gay)*
1997 Il mondo della luna (Haydn)*, Triple Bill: Il maestro di cappella (Cimarosa)/ The Telephone (Menotti)/ Susanna’s Secret (Wolf-Ferrari)
1998 La finta semplice (Mozart), Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky)*
1999 Double Bill: Il campanello di notte (Donizetti)/ The Beautiful Galatea (Suppé), The Rape of Lucretia (Britten)*, Il tabarro (Puccini)*
2000 Fierrabras (Schubert), Rodelinda (Handel)*, Jane Eyre (Berkeley)*, The Martyrdom of St Magnus (Maxwell Davies)*
2001 Un giorno di regno (Verdi), Partenope (Handel)*, The Lighthouse (Maxwell Davies)*, The Nose (Shostakovich)*
2002 La Périchole (Offenbach), Erismena (Cavalli)*, Double Bill: The Young Man with the Carnation (Ruston)/ The Bear (Walton)*, The Electrification of the Soviet Union (Osborne)*, The Green Children (LeFanu) †
2003 Maria Padilla (Donizetti), Semele (Handel), Candide (Bernstein)*, Gwyneth and the Green Knight (Plowman)*, Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck)
2004 Il turco in Italia (Rossini), Hercules (Handel), Maria de Buenos Aires (Piazzolla), The Turn of the Screw (Britten)*, The Blackened Man (Will Todd), Triple Bill: Mahagonny Songspiel (Weill)*, Trouble in Tahiti (Bernstein)*, Walking not Driving (Tim Coker)*
2005 The Merry Wives of Windsor (Nicolai), Ascanio in Alba (Mozart), Hollow Hill (Ian McQueen), Ariodante (Handel)*, The Knot Garden (Tippett)*, The Barber of Seville (Paisiello)*, The Birds (Ed Hughes)*
2006 The Fair Maid of Perth (Bizet), Armide (Gluck), Pimpinone (Telemann), Noye’s Fludde (Britten)†, The Nose (Shostakovich)*, The Coronation of Poppea (Monteverdi)*, Apollo and Hyacinthus (Mozart)*, Isabella and the Pot of Basil (Laurence Roman)*
2007 Roberto Devereux (Donizetti), Bluebeard (Offenbach), Le nozze di Figaro (Mozart)*, King Arthur (Purcell)*, Tobias and the Angel (Jonathan Dove)†, Romeo and Juliet (Benda)*, Julie (Boesmans)*
2008 The Poacher (Lortzing), Samson (Handel), Triple Bill: Savitri (Holst)/ The Wandering Scholar (Holst)/ Riders to the sea (Vaughan Williams), Street Scene (Weill)*, Dido and Aeneas (Purcell)*, A Chair in Love (John Metcalf)*
2009 Lucrezia Borgia (Donizetti), Véronique (Messager), Camacho’s Wedding (Mendelssohn), The Lighthouse (Maxwell Davies)*, Mitridate (Mozart)*, Orlando (Handel)*
2010 Luisa Miller (Verdi), The Barber of Baghdad (Cornelius), Idomeneo (Mozart, arr. R. Strauss), Zaide (Mozart)*, Into the Little Hill (Benjamin)*, Alcina (Handel)*, Trouble in Tahiti (Bernstein)*, All the King’s Men (Bennet)†
2011 Maria di Rohan (Donizetti), Saul (Handel), Mignon (Thomas), Monteverdi’s Flying Circus (Monteverdi)*, Greek (Turnage)*, The Italian Girl in London (Cimarosa)*, The Lovely Ladies (Cowdrey)*, Tarka the Otter (McNeff)†, Pimpinone (Telemann)*
2012 Intermezzo (R. Strauss), Double Bill: The Maiden in the Tower (Sibelius)/ Kashchei the Immortal (Rimsky-Korsakov), Jephtha (Handel), Too Hot to Handel (Handel)*, L’Olympiade (Vivaldi)*, The Marriage of Figaro (Portugal)*, The Turn of the Screw (Britten)*, James and the Giant Peach (Chappell)†
2013 Double Bill: La Princesse Jaune (Saint-Saëns)/ La Colombe (Gounod), La finta giardiniera (Mozart), Ottone in villa (Vivaldi)*, Church Parables: Curlew River/ The Prodigal Son/ The Burning Fiery Furnace (Britten)*, Double Bill: The Killing Flower (Sciarrino)/ Eight Songs for a Mad King (Maxwell Davies)*, Fortunio (Messager)*
2014 The Jacobin (Dvorak), Orfeo ed Euridice (Gluck), Otello (Rossini)‡, Gloria – A Pigtale (Gruber)*
2015 Giovanna d’Arco (Verdi), Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti), Louise (Charpentier)‡, Dido and Aeneas (Purcell)*
2016 Leonore (Beethoven), I Capuleti e i Montecchi (Bellini), Tamerlano (Handel), The Golden Dragon (Eötvös)*, La Sena Festeggiante (Vivaldi)*‡