© David Iliff

The best classical and opera in the UK this July

The BBC Proms return, plus an opera deemed "too bawdy" for the public returns to Buxton Opera House
June 7, 2021
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Season Finale, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, 7th July

It may seem like concerts have only just got going again, but it’s already the end of the season for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. In its delicious final programme, Alina Ibragimova is the soloist in Prokofiev’s playful First Violin Concerto, whose darting lines echo the paintings of Paul Klee. Conductor Edward Gardner is reunited with the orchestra for Schubert’s Fourth symphony—packed with a teenage composer’s joy, anguish and intensity.

First Night of the Proms, Royal Albert Hall, 30th July

After an unprecedented season, the BBC Proms—and, crucially, prommers—are back at almost full strength. The world’s largest classical music festival kicks off with an opening night conducted by Dalia Stasevska. The BBC Symphony Orchestra’s rising star guest conductor directs the orchestra and BBC Singers in Vaughan Williams’ ravishing Serenade to Music. The Royal Albert Hall’s mighty “Father” Willis organ is put through its paces by Daniel Hyde in Poulenc’s vivacious concerto.

Buxton Festival: The Dancing Master, Buxton Opera House, 9th to 22nd July

Malcolm Arnold is best remembered today as the Oscar-winning composer of The Bridge on the River Kwai. Less familiar is his one-act opera The Dancing Master. Deemed “too bawdy” for the BBC, it remained unperformed during Arnold’s lifetime. But last year an award-winning new recording put this charming farce (based on a Restoration comedy by William Wycherley) back on the musical map. Now the same team reunite for a live production in Buxton’s intimate opera house. Eleanor Dennis and David Webb star.