Thursday, February 22

Buxton Opera House

Buxton Opera House is in The Square, Buxton, Derbyshire, England. It is a 902-seat opera house that hosts the annual Buxton Festival and, from 1994 to 2013, the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, among others, as well as pantomime at Christmas, musicals and other entertainments year-round. Hosting live performances until 1927, the theatre then was used mostly as a cinema until 1976. In 1979, it was refurbished and reopened as a venue for live performance.


It was built in 1903 and designed by Frank Matcham, one of Britain’s finest theatre architects. He also designed a number of famous London theatres, including the London Palladium (1910) and the London Coliseum (1904).

The Opera House ran as a successful theatre, receiving touring companies until 1927, when it was turned into a cinema. Silent films were shown until 1932 when the theatre was wired for sound and could present ‘talkies’. The Opera House also became the venue for an annual summer theatre festival from 1936 to 1942, two of them in conjunction with Lillian Bayliss and her London-based Old Vic company. After the Second World War, the theatre continued to serve primarily as a cinema, although the Literary and Dramatic Societies of local schools Buxton College and Cavendish Grammar School staged annual performances of either Shakespeare, such as Hamlet (1966), Coriolanus (1968) and Macbeth (1970), or modern works, such as Bertold Brecht’s Life of Galileo (1967) and Dylan Thomas’s The Doctor & the Devils (1969).

The theatre complex also includes the adjacent Victorian Pavilion, the 369-seat Pavilion Arts Centre (rebuilt in 2010; formerly the Paxton Theatre and earlier known as the Playhouse Theatre and The Hippodrome), and the Octagon Hall auditorium (built in 1875), as well as a two-storey restaurant with a bar and gift shop. The arts centre stage area can be converted into a separate 93-seat studio theatre.

Address: The Square, Buxton, Derbyshire, England

Designation: Grade II

Capacity: 902

Opened: 1903

Architect: Frank Matcham


Information correct as of September 2020