I knew it since several months. That Damon Albarn, former leader of Blur and Gorillaz, was composing an opera. The kind of news I'm kinda excited about (after all, I like Albarn's pop music) and real anxious at the same time (if his operatic try is a disaster). Things are getting real, now. The Manchester International Festival has announced its programmation for its first edition; Albarn's Monkey:Journey to the west will premiere on Sat. June 28th, 2007, and be played until July 8. Albarn's work, subtitled A circus opera for the 21st century (aren't you scared? just a little bit?), based on an ancient Chinese legend, will feature 45 Chinese circus acrobats, Beijing Opera actors & singers, and Shaolin martial artists (scared already?). In addition, there will be 15 Chinese and western musicians. Oh, and the "libretto" is in Madarin, with English surtitles. Still not scared? Are you sure? Director: Chen Shi-Zheng Design & animation: Jamie Hewlett (also a Gorillaz member) Lyrics: David Greenspan Designed and created by the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris in co-production with Manchester International Festival and the State Opera House, Berlin (Staatsoper Unter den Linden). Paris performances: opening of the 2007/2008 season, from Sept. 26 to Oct. 13 (15 performances).