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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 May, 2004, 09:24 GMT 10:24 UK
Opera singers ride to Glastonbury
Glastonbury's Pyramid Stage
The English National Opera will perform at the festival on 27 June
The Glastonbury Festival is to include opera for the first time, with the English National Opera (ENO) to perform part of Wagner's Ring Cycle there.

Some 91 musicians and 11 soloists will perform the section that includes the Ride of the Valkyries.

They hope the performance at the rock festival will reach a new audience who would not normally go to the opera.

All 112,000 tickets for the event, to be staged in Somerset from 25-27 June, were snapped up in one day in April.

The Glastonbury line-up is to be headed by Sir Paul McCartney, Oasis and Muse.

Hopefully a bit of Wagner will get people out of bed as people are pretty familiar with the music
Michael Eavis
Glastonbury organiser
The Ride of the Valkyries, act three of Wagner's full opera, The Valkyries, will be performed on the festival's final day.

It will be a familiar theme to many, having featured in Francis Ford Coppola's film Apocalypse Now.

Glastonbury organiser Michael Eavis told BBC Radio Five Live: "We decided to put them on the main stage at 11am on Sunday morning.

"It is all quiet at that time of day and hopefully a bit of Wagner will get people out of bed as people are pretty familiar with the music.

"It is bigger than anything we have done before, but it's not our usual style."

This is an audience we should be reaching out to
Sean Doran
English National Opera
Sean Doran, artistic director and chief executive of the ENO, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it would be a "great spectacle".

He said: "It's a great coming together of pop and classical music, but when you think of the context, we can reach such a large audience with music so thrilling as Wagner's Valkyries.

"We will have a 91-piece orchestra and 11 soloists, so there will be more than 100 people on the stage.

"That in itself will be a spectacle as well as what the audience will hear."

Mr Doran added that the epic opera, which is currently being performed by the English National Opera at the London Coliseum, was written by Wagner with a mass audience in mind.

Signature theme

"This is an audience we should be reaching out to," he added.

"The Glastonbury audience will know the signature theme, but they will be hearing much of what they haven't heard before.

"They will be there to hear music and have fun and in the whole sense of the outdoor spectacle.

"When Wagner wrote the Ring he wanted a festival context for it, he wanted to reach as many people as possible and take it to the masses."

  • The Glastonbury performance will be be broadcast by BBC Two as part of a season of opera coverage.

    Other events in the BBC Summer of Opera season include a live production of Faust from the Royal Opera House, a portrait of Benjamin Britten and a documentary about the life of Luciano Pavarotti.

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