International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival ready for return to Buxton Opera House

After two years away from the stage, some of Britain’s best comic opera performers return to Buxton this weekend for opening night of the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival.

Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 10:47 am

Final preparations are under way for a week of shows at Buxton Opera House featuring the National G&S Opera Company, Charles Court Opera and other acts.

The 27th edition of the festival gets under way with matinee and evening performances of HMS Pinafore on Saturday, July 31.

A festival spokesman said: “Enjoy the wit and hilarity of Gilbert & Sullivan – it’s just what the doctor ordered to banish the blues and have some fun. Visitors always leave the Opera House with a smile on their face and skip in their step.

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The National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company perform The Pirates of Penzance at Buxton Opera House in 2019. (Photo: Jane Stokes)

“And if that wasn’t enough to tempt visitors into town, there is a lively morning and afternoon fringe programme with fascinating talks and concerts.”

From Sunday, August 1, through to Saturday, August 7, the Opera House will host one major production each day. The running order is The Mikado, The Yeomen of the Guard, Patience, The Pirates of Penzance, HMS Pinafore and Iolanthe.

The fringe programme includes a walking tour of Buxton’s theatrical history, live Q&As with principal actors, and intimate recitals at St John’s Church, as well as a stage adaptation of The Diary of a Nobody – the bestselling book cowritten by Gilbert and Sullivan’s original leading man, George Grossmith.

Gilbert & Sullivan remain the world’s most performed theatrical partnership. Together they wrote fourteen comic operas between 1871 and 1896, which paved the way for musical theatre as we know it and their influence can be seen in just about every musical playing in the West End today.

The International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival was founded 1994 by Halifax businessman Ian Smith and made its first home in Buxton. In 2014, the main festival moved to Harrogate but with Buxton still hosting the first week each year.

Ian Smith died in 2019, meaning this will be the first festival to run without him, but wife Janet and sons Neil and Oliver have ensured it remains a family affair.

For more information and ticket bookings, go to