Stephen Barlow has announced that he will step down as artistic director of Buxton International Festival, after a seven-year tenure. The 2018 edition will be the last under his leadership.

Since joining the festival in 2011, Barlow (pictured) has championed lesser-performed operas including Leonore (Beethoven), Louise (Charpentier), The Jacobin (Dvořák), La princesse jaune‚ (Saint-Saëns), Intermezzo (Strauss), Kaschei the Immortal (Rimsky), Maiden in the Tower (Sibelius) and Otello (Rossini). This year he conducts Alzira, which is to be given its first major UK staged production.

Barlow has also worked to develop new partnerships for the festival: working with Music Theatre Wales, Buxton has showcased The Golden Dragon (Eötvös), The Killing Flower (Sciarrino) – both UK premieres – and Y Tŵr (Puw).

Despite stepping back as artistic director, Barlow will continue to collaborate with Buxton. Newly appointed CEO Michael Williams has confirmed that Barlow will conduct one of the festival opera productions in 2019, which is the festival’s 40th anniversary.