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  • Buxton Opera House

  • Buxton

    © Nicholas Wearne

  • Buxton Opera House

Fitness / Practicalities
Tour Director

  • Enjoy a selection of the festival’s main performances, including Verdi’s Ernani, Haydn’s La Canterina and Handel’s The Triumph of Time and Truth

  • Attend rarely performed works including Ethel Smyth’s The Boatswain’s Mate and La Tragedie de Carmen, adapted from Bizet’s original by the celebrated Peter Brook

  • Explore the Grade I listed Buxton Crescent and make an excursion to Haddon Hall, a delightful country house with medieval origins

“Russell was very knowledgeable about the operas… I particularly enjoyed our discussions back at the hotel after the performances”

- ACE customer on the 2023 Buxton International Festival tour led by Russell Keable

Every summer the Derbyshire spa town of Buxton, surrounded by the glorious hills of the Peak District, presents a feast of opera, literature and music. The combination of established and promising up-and-coming performers makes for one of the UK’s most stimulating arts festivals, and over the years it has become both nationally and internationally acclaimed.


The festival is beloved for its mix of familiar and less familiar works, and our 2024 tour offers examples of each. Historically one of Verdi’s most popular operas, Ernani – based on a work by Victor Hugo and the composer’s first to be commissioned by the Teatro La Fenice – helped to make him a household name; despite that, productions today are rare compared with his better known operas, and this will be a wonderful opportunity to experience the composer’s youthful, exuberant style.


Early works by Handel and Haydn will provide a musical contrast. As his first opera written for Prince Esterhazy, Haydn’s shorter work La Canterina (The Songstress) marked a similarly significant moment in his career; while The Triumph of Time and Truth – an allegorical tale in which Time and Truth compete against the more tempting Pleasure and Deceit for the soul of Beauty – was Handel’s first oratorio; “This is Handel at his most mature and confident,” describes the festival, “combining rousing choruses, beguiling arias, and colourful orchestral writing.”  


Moving forward to the early 20th century, suffragette Ethel Smyth’s rarely performed The Boatswain’s Mate will light up the stage on our fourth evening, its humorous ‘battle of wits’ between a widow and her would-be suitor carried by a lively score featuring traditional folk songs and echoing wider influences from the music hall to Arthur Sullivan. Our tour concludes with La Tragedie de Carmen, an intimate and powerful re-examination of Bizet’s seminal work adapted by the celebrated film and theatre director Peter Brook and performed by a small cast.


Making the most of our time in Buxton, we look forward to visiting the Grade I listed Buxton Crescent. Built in the 1780s, it was amongst the first purpose built hotels in the country, and established Buxton as a fashionable Georgian spa destination. A major £50m renovation project recently transformed the Crescent and returned it to its former glory. We will also make an excursion to Haddon Hall, a beautiful country house described by Simon Jenkins as "the most perfect house to survive from the Middle Ages".


The festival operas will be complemented by introductory lectures given by our Tour Director, and opportunities for informal post-performance discussions.

We will stay throughout at the four-star Best Western Plus Buxton Lee Wood Hotel, a comfortable hotel located in a Georgian building set in its own mature gardens.


This tour will be led by Russell Keable, BA, MMus. Russell trained at the universities of Nottingham and London and studied conducting with George Hurst and Norman Del Mar at London’s Royal College of Music. He currently teaches at the University of Surrey and is active as a composer, arranger, lecturer, broadcaster and performer.


Tour Code

Included: accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, performances as described, five breakfasts, five dinners with water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.

Not Included: travel insurance, twin/double room for single use supplement £215.

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