Yes, the dynamic duo are back. Not Batman and Robin, but Gilbert and Sullivan who take centre stage in the 4th International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival which starts at the Buxton Opera House.

That Gilbert and Sullivan mania has gripped the Derbyshire spa town is demonstrated by there being no fewer than 87 separate events across the fortnight.

Highlights include the first appearance in Britain of the newly formed Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company which stages The Mikado (2 & 9 Aug), HMS Pinafore (3 & 16 Aug) and Cox and Box (16 Aug). Featuring a celebrated host of former D'Oyly Carte Opera Company stars, such as Gillian Knight, Valerie Masterson, Thomas Round and Michael Rayner, the Gilbert and Sullivan Company should maintain a high degree of Savoyard professionalism.

Yet another vital aspect of the Buxton G & S jamboree are the amateur groups invited to perform. From a host of applicants this year, eight have been selected, including performers from Oxford University, Trent Opera, the Edmund Rice Group, Ireland and Bournemouth G & S. It also means that not just the standard core repertoire is wheeled out but also such comparative rarities as the duo's first full-length operetta, The Sorcerer (4 Aug), as well as their penultimate, the sharply satirical Utopia Limited (7 Aug).

Today, an opening ceremony and costume parade should ensure that proceedings get off to a flying start. Meanwhile, for the more scholarly enthusiast, a range of talks and lectures explores a variety of aspects of G & S's turbulent partnership.

A concurrent film festival screens about as many G & S works on celluloid as are in existence whilst more filming occurs over the next 16 days from the BBC, making an Omnibus Special and perhaps demonstrating that, a century after their last collaboration, Gilbert and Sullivan are still as newsworthy as ever.

Buxton Opera House, (01298 72190) to 17 Aug

Duncan Hadfield