British soprano Sarah Brightman is to sing at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on Friday alongside Chinese singer Li Huan.

The 48-year-old - once married to Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber - will perform a specially-commissioned "theme song" for the opening of the Beijing Olympics, organisers confirmed today.

Zhang Heping, director of the Beijing Organising Committee of the 29th Olympic Games (BOCOG), confirmed the performance at a press conference on Wednesday but did not reveal the title or content of the song.

The opening ceremony, featuring some 15,000 participants, will start at 20:00 local time (12:00 BST) and last for around three and a half hours, he announced.

Brightman and Huan's performance of the theme song will feature at the climax of the artistic performance portion of the ceremony, an hour-long section concentrating first on China's age-old civilization and later its modern era.

Following the theme song there will be an address by Chinese President Hu Jintao to open the Games followed by the entry of the Olympic flag and athletes from the competing nations, who will enter in Chinese alphabetical order, Zhang said.

The opening ceremony will also include a firework show involving some 29,000 shells.

"The passion will be lighted on the night of August 8th, offering the hundreds of thousands of spectators in the National Stadium, as well as hundreds of millions of people outside a spectacular performance," he added.

06/08/2008 09:22:00