Opera star Sir Bryn Terfel is opening the Eisteddfod 2018 in Cardiff Bay with sell-out concerts over two nights.
The Welsh bass-baritone will be singing a Welsh translation of a Paul Robeson song as part of a new work celebrating his links with Wales.
It marks the 60th anniversary of the American bass singer’s performance at the Eisteddfod in Ebbw Vale.
This year’s Cardiff Eisteddfod, opening on Friday, is expected to attract at least 150,000 visitors over nine days.
The Wales Millennium Centre becomes the Eisteddfod’s centrepiece pavilion but the traditional Maes – normally enclosed – is being opened out across the Bay area.
Organisers said it aims to be “vibrantly ground-breaking, bringing one of Wales’ best known and oldest traditions to a brand new and inclusive audience”.
NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD 2018 – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- It runs until 11 August in Cardiff Bay
- About 1,000 events, activities, talks, screenings, wildlife walks and workshops
- The Eisteddfod is trying to encourage new visitors and Welsh learners
- You will need a wristband/ticket for events at venues in the Pavilion but not for access to stalls and buildings being used outside
- Road closures will be in place and public transport is being encouraged while a park-and-ride will operate from the Cardiff City Stadium (06:30-00:00 BST, £10 or £8 advance).
- There is a website with full information – including what’s on and accommodation, while camping is being offered in Pontcanna Fields.
Sir Bryn said the Eisteddfod helped make him the singer he became.
“I haven’t sung in the Eisteddfod for a while so I felt guilty about that so we threw this curve ball to the Eisteddfod, let’s do a show about Paul Robeson,” Sir Bryn told BBC Wales.
“He actually came to an Eisteddfod in the mid-1950s, and he loved Wales, he loved the people and took them under his wing.”
Sir Bryn said Robeson was an iconic character with a tremendous story.
Suspected of being a Communist, he was banned from leaving the United States in 1957 but addressed the Miners’ Eisteddfod in Porthcawl after a transatlantic cable was laid.
His close affinity with Wales will be told in Hwn yw fy Mrawd (This is my Brother), a new work from poet Mererid Hopwood and composer Robat Arwyn, which is the major part of Sir Bryn’s programme for the opening gala concert.
This includes a Welsh translation of a Robeson song, with the blessing of his family.
“The man could do everything – and do everything well,” said Sir Bryn.
“He was a keen sportsman to a lawyer, to singing all sorts of music, form classical to African, from Bach to Handel. It’s amazing and to hear that profundo bass is a voice you recognise immediately.”