(dpa) - A glittering new opera house was to be formally opened Saturday by Norway's King Harald in Oslo in the presence of a host of dignitaries.
The opening performance was to be broadcast live on Norwegian radio and television and features well-known Norwegian singers and choirs.
The premiere programme includes music from Lohengrin, Turandot, The Magic Flute, Nabbucco, The Marriage of Figaro, Porgy & Bess, Der Rosenkavalier (Cavalier of the Rose) and La Boheme.
"We shall showcase our most outstanding artists in the form of the opera's own ensemble. In addition we have special guests and a huge 'slave choir' (to sing the slave chorus in Verdi's Nabucco)," opera chief Bjorn Simensen said in a statement.
Danish Queen Margrethe II, Finnish President Tarja Halonen and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other members of the Norwegian royal family were among the some 1,300 guests of honour.
The landmark building on the Oslo waterfront cost 4.4 billion kroner (877 million dollars) to build, mainly from taxpayers' money.
The building will offer opera and ballet, but not shy from rock or jazz performances. British rock artist PJ Harvey was for instance slated to perform in June.
Construction began in 2003. The opera has four scenes including a main 1,350-seat auditorium and a smaller 400-seat auditorium.
Like similar projects, the opera has had its share of glitches.
The planned opening production Around the World in 80 Days was postponed in February until next year over problems with the stage equipment. That suggests Don Carlos will be the first opera production in September.
Concerns have also been raised over discolouration of some of the white marble used for the building.Meanwhile Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai threw her support behind activists protesting China's role in Tibet and Sudan's Darfur region by declining to be a part of the Olympic torch relay in Tanzania when the torch arrives on Sunday.
Vancouver said there would be no international torch relay when it hosts the 2010 Winter Olympics. "Our plan has always been to have a relay that was largely centred on Canada," organizing committee head John Furlong said in Beijing.
Furlong said it was conceivable that the torch might make a stop on its way from Olympia in Greece to Canada and that Vancouver organizers had "never contemplated" having an international relay.