The classical music concerts and festivals going ahead this summer in the UK

With the potential lifting of restrictions, a tranche of operas, festivals, venues and orchestras have announced their summer programmes – with or without social distancing

The classical music concerts and festivals going ahead this summer in the UK

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

19 May-7 July


The CBSO will resume its weekly concert series from 19 May to 7 July, with socially distanced audiences invited to Birmingham’s Symphony Hall. Each programme will be performed twice, at both 2pm and 6.30pm.

The orchestra has plans to continue its Weinberg symphony cycle with music director Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, as well as the world premiere of Thomas Adès‘s orchestral piece based on his 2016 opera The Exterminating Angel. 


20 May-29 August

Glyndebourne’s summer opera series is scheduled to go ahead from 20 May to 29 August, opening with a 50% seating capacity. The season will include new productions of Janáček‘s Kát’a Kabanová, Rossini’Il turco in Italia, Mozart‘s Così fan tutte and Verdi’s Luisa Miller. 

Although a performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute was initially scheduled, this has now been replaced by a concert series from Glyndebourne’s resident orchestras, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, led by Robin Ticciati.

Grange Park Opera

10 June-18 July

The Surrey-based opera has performances of Puccini‘s La bohème, Rimsky-Korsakov‘s first – and little known – opera Ivan the Terrible, Anthony Bolton’s new opera The Life and Death of Alexander Litvinenko and bass-baritone Bryn Terfel appearing in Verdi‘s Falstaff. 

CEO Wasfi Kani announced that no patrons will be allocated seats until a fortnight before their booked event, and their vaccination status will be taken into account when the seating plan is organised. ‘Four weeks before, I want to ask every ticket buyer whether they have been vaccinated and whether the people in their party have,’ she told The Times. ‘I will probably try to organise all the vaccinated people in one area — they will feel more confident.’

Opera Holland Park

1 June-7 August

London’s outdoor auditorium has been redesigned to allow for social distancing, open to audiences of 400 as opposed to the usual 1000. Each area of the auditorium has been arranged for pre-sized household bubbles.

This summer season, OHP hopes to include performances of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Verdi’s La traviata, Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz, Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen and Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance.

Longborough Festival Opera

1 June-3 August

With Wagner‘s Die Walküre scheduled for Longborough’s main house in its idyllic Cotswolds setting, there is a new circus Big Top setting for Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Monteverdi’s The Return of Ulysses and Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen. The Big Top has been designed especially for Longborough’s 2021 season, with a socially distanced seating plan for household bubbles.

Garsington Opera

2 June-25 July

This year marks Garsington Opera’s 10th anniversary at its home in Wormsley, Buckinghamshire, and to celebrate the occasion, there will be a raft of indoor and outdoor performances throughout summer.

Miah Persson and Hannah Hipp appear in a new production of Strauss’s Rosenkavalier which opens Garsington’s 2021 season, followed by a revival of Michael Boyd and Tom Piper’s 2016 production of Tchaikovsky‘s Eugene Onegin, as well as Rossini’s Le Comte Ory and Handel‘s Amadigi. As usual, the operas will be accompanied by Garsington’s ensembles in residence, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the English Concert.

The Grange Festival

24 June-24 July

Rather than singing, John Tomlinson, Thomas Allen and Susan Bullock star in a new spoken-word King Lear at this year’s Grange Festival, directed by Keith Warner. Also on the programme is Britten‘s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Rossini’s La Cenerentola and Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, as well as the Broadway musical My Fair Lady. 

The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra will be accompanying all the summer festivals as the Grange’s orchestra in residence.

Buxton International Festival

8-25 July

Four operas will be staged at this year’s Buxton International Festival from various opera companies and ensembles. Errollyn Wallen’s Dido’s Ghost has three performances scheduled – a co-commission with the Barbican Centre, Mahogany Opera, Philharmonic Baroque Orchestra & Chorale and the Dunedin Consort. Also on the programme is Malcolm Arnold’s The Dancing Master with conductor John Andrews, whose recording of this work with the BBC Concert Orchestra is nominated for a BBC Music Magazine Opera Award this year, as well as Pauline Viardot’s Cendrillon and a performance from the Early Opera Company of Acis and Galatea.

For the first time, the Buxton festival will be staging a musical: Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, as well as Jonathan Dove’s family-friendly chamber opera The Enchanted Pig.

As well as the four scheduled operas, there will be performances from violinist Jennifer Pike, mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly, bass John Tomlinson, The English Concert, the Fitzwilliam String Quartet and cellist Natalie Clein.

Nevill Holt Opera

4-25 August

The Leicestershire-based opera festival has moved its summer season back to August, with its brand new outdoor covered stage which allows for a 650-person socially distanced audience. The pricing strategy has been adapted to make it more affordable for opera goers, with tickets starting at £35 and free for under-18s.

There’s a new performance auditorium for Nevill Holt Opera, which provides a setting for Verdi’s La traviata and Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

South Facing Festival

After a major crowdfunding campaign to celebrate its 60th anniversary, the Crystal Palace Bowl has announced the launch of the South Facing Festival, which will take place at the open-air South London venue for the first time this summer.

The South Facing Festival will take place at Crystal Palace Bowl from 5-31 August. The artists confirmed so far include Dizzee Rascal and the Outlook Orchestra, Supergrass, The Streets, Max Richter and the English National Opera.

Composer Max Richter will be performing at the festival on 28 August. He will perform two works, VOICES and INFRA with the Max Richter Ensemble. The English National Opera is staging two performances of Puccini’s Tosca on 27 and 29 August.


Birmingham Royal Ballet

An adapted version of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Cinderella will be staged from 18-26 June this year, with Prokofiev’s score performed live by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia. There will be reduced staging and score adaptations to allow for social distancing and performer ‘bubbles’.