Classical: Rare operas in Buxton

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Those who enjoy searching for seldom performed operas will be heading for Buxton in July, the annual Festival unveiling three seldom staged works with Beethoven’s Leonore as the headline news.

Today his opera, Fidelio, is well known, but in its gestation period – which lasted over ten years – it was performed in two equally unsuccessful and progressively shortened versions with the title, Leonore. The fascination to hear his first version has remained strong among the curious and Buxton’s new production is headed by the much admired New Zealand-born soprano, Kirstin Sharpen, with the Danish heldentenor, David Danholt, as her husband, Florestan. Stephen Barlow conducts the Northern Chamber Orchestra.

Bellini gave the Romeo and Juliet story an Italian name, I Capuleti e I Montecci, for an opera he completed in just three months to meet a hurried commission, that time-scale achieved by using material from a previously failed work. Though this time it enjoyed enormous success, it has now a rarity overshadowed by the popularity of his later works.

Juliet is sung by the 2009 Kathleen Ferrier award winner, Sarah-Jane Brandon, who is enjoying a career in the famous central European opera houses.

The third major production offers Handel’s Tamerlano, a fine dramatic opera whose departure from the repertoire is difficult to understand. Buxton is offering a period performance with the English Consort directed by Laurence Cummings.

Buxton Festival July 8 – July 23. tickets from 01298 72190.