SIR Jonathan Miller will be one of the directors at this year’s festival.

The festival, from July 24 to 27, celebrates the bicentenaries of the births of Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner, and features La traviata and The Flying Dutchman.

Sir Jonathan, pictured below, who is established as one of the world’s most celebrated opera directors, will direct La traviata.

Festival artistic director Roderick Kennedy said: “We are delighted that possibly Britain’s greatest living polymath has agreed to direct our new production of La traviata.

“Many of Jonathan Miller’s works are repertoire mainstays for Britain’s major opera companies: who will ever forget his Barber of Seville and brilliant Mikado, both of which form the basis of the current English National Opera season, along with his infamous mafia Rigoletto?”

This will be the first time Dorset Opera has performed Wagner, and The Flying Dutchman is a relatively short piece chosen as it is considered approachable.

It will be conducted by music director Jeremy Carnall and directed by Paul Carr.

The performances take place in the 600- seat Coade Theatre in Dorset parkland near Blandford Forum.

For tickets call the box office on 01202 499199.

Sir Jonathan will also be giving a lecture as part of the festival called Under the Influence at the Coade Theatre on May 25.