SINGING sensation Russell Watson is to headline this year’s Llangollen International Eisteddfod.

The Salford-born tenor will take to the Pavilion stage on the opening night of July’s festival for his first Eisteddfod appearance.

The announcement comes on the back of a sell-out tour of Russell’s latest studio album, La Voce, his first since beating cancer.

He will be backed by the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Robert Emery, and joined on stage by Faryl Smith, the teen mezzo-soprano who rose to fame after auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent in 2008.

Russell is excited to be involved in the six-day festival, which celebrates the best music and folk dance from across the globe.

He said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be following in the footsteps of so many international stars at what is known as the most famous Eisteddfod in the world.

“This festival really keeps ‘a welcome in the hillside’ and I cannot wait to step foot on the pavilion stage and perform.

“Llangollen here I come!”

The Eisteddfod has been drawing crowds each summer since 1947 and is considered one of the world’s most inspirational cultural festivals.

Each year about 4,000 performers descend on Llangollen’s Pavilion to compete in song and dance.

The best competitors then win the chance to perform on stage alongside professional acts which this year will include the Orchestra of Welsh National
Opera, the Mid-Wales Opera Company and now Russell Watson.

Mervyn Cousins, Llangollen Festivals’ chief executive, said: “It is great to have one of the world’s most popular as well as most powerful voices at Llangollen 2011.

“We look forward to welcoming Russell Watson here – he, of course joins a long line of fabulous singers who have graced the Llangollen stage.”

He added: “It will be good to welcome back Faryl Smith, who began her success in Llangollen as a vocal solo winner at the tender age of 11.”

The festival runs from July 5 to 10 and Russell performs on the opening night at 7.45pm.

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