A Happy Marriage of Opera, Music and books is how the Buxton Festival which kicks off this Friday describes itself.

At this year’s offerings promise just that.With performances of Dvořák’s the Jacobin creating a romantic village atmosphere, and Rossini’s 1816 adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy of jealousy in Otello through a cornucopia of authors via music from amongst others Manchester’s Halle soloists.

Among the well-known names appearing will be former Cabinet Minister Jonathan Aitken on Margaret Thatcher, agony aunt Irma Kurtz, talking about 40 years of the world’s problems, and Peter Snow looking back at Britain’s attack on the White House 200 years ago. Celebrated author Margaret Drabble presents her latest novel, pottery designer Emma Bridgewater looks back on her childhood influences and Gyles Brandreth will share the 7 Secrets of Happiness.

In this, the centenary of the start of World War I, Kate Adie looks at the role of women on the home front, Shirley Williams talks about her mother, Testament of Youth author Vera Brittain, Miranda Seymour examines the relationship between Britain and Germany, while Max Hastings charts the reasons Europe went to war in 1914. It’s also the centenary of Dylan Thomas’ birth, and John Goodby looks back on the poet’s life.

While there are a number of amazing life-stories. John Julius Norwich will be talking about the letters his mother, Lady Diana Cooper; Alex Danchev presents the letters of Paul Cézanne and Hermione Lee looks back at the life and work of author Penelope Fitzgerald.

Philippa Langley & Michael Jones talk about their involvement in the fascinating hunt for Richard III’s resting-place, while Antonia Fraser returns to one of her most celebrated biographical subjects, Mary, Queen of Scots.

The festival, now in its thirty sixth year opens with a fabulous gala concert of operatic highlights, starring two of Britain’s most renowned singers, Sandra Bullock and Richard Berkeley-Steelein an evening featuring the Wagnerian repertoire for which they’re best known as well as popular Viennese music.

Two of the country’s most glamorous and versatile performers appear together for the first time as Lesley Garrett and Emma Johnson perform in a programme for the soprano voice and its instrumental counterpoint the clarinet.

While the Halle soloists led by Lyn Fletcher perform Elgar’s haunting Sospiri, a lament for the dead of the First World War.

For details of all events and bookings to www.buxton festival.co.uk


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