Staging a scandal puts Buxton in the running for top UK theatre award

Staging a scandal puts Buxton in the running for top UK theatre award

Buxton International Festival has confirmed its place as one of the nation’s leading opera producing companies with a nomination in this year’s UK Theatre Awards for its world premiere of Georgiana, the story of the life and scandalous times of the most controversial Duchess of Devonshire.   

The critically acclaimed production was especially commissioned for the Festival’s 40th anniversary programme this year, and was written and produced by a team led by its Chief Executive Officer Michael Williams.

The winner will be announced on October 27 at a glittering show business party in London’s Guildhall, and the other nominees in the Achievement in Opera category are Welsh National Opera and Leeds-based Opera North.

“We are very proud to be competing against these companies,” said Michael. “One is based in a major city, the other is a nation’s opera flagship, so this confirms Buxton’s place in the top rankings of British opera with a work conceived, written and produced in our wonderful town in the heart of the Peak District.”

And the nomination comes as the Festival launches it BIF Big Weekend of music, book talks and debate (October 18-20) with the UK’s favourite poet Pam Ayres, a re-assessment of art critic John Ruskin to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth and a rare one-woman opera.

Georgiana illustrated the life and times of Georgiana Cavendish, the wife of the 5th Duchess of Devonshire. While her husband was building Buxton’s magnificent Crescent, Georgiana was setting London society alight with a mixture of dangerous liaisons, political activism and reckless gambling. Her life (1757–1806) inspired a best-selling biography by Amanda Foreman and the Keira Knightley Hollywood film, The Duchess.

The lyrics were written by Michael Williams, with the text by Janet Plater. The music was a pasticcio, or compilation, of music from the Georgian era from composers including Mozart, Storace and Linley, weaved seamlessly together by Mark Tatlow, who also conducted The Northern Chamber Orchestra for the performances.

Leading opera critic Rupert Christiansen said it was “excellent light entertainment that the audience lapped up.”

He also praised Buxton as “the pluckiest” of the country’s summer festivals, producing innovative work without the same level of financial support most others enjoy.

Watch the trailer for Georgiana here.

For more details of the Big BIF Weekend from October 18-20, go to the Festival website

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