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Here The Guide editor

Liam Rudden explores some of this year’s more populist shows

A RUSSIAN Cinderella, Gulliver’s Travels in Romanian, The King’s refurbished, a guerilla dance troupe, Fringe favourite Camille O’Sullivan and the Royal Highland Centre at Ingliston transformed into a ‘theatre warehouse’ – just some of the highlights of 2012 Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) programme, announced last week.

Come August, a total of 3000 performers, from 47 countries, will give 185 performances of 117 productions, making this year’s EIF the biggest in recent times. Despite this, for many, the city’s arts extravaganza means just one thing, the annual firework display over Princes Street Gardens.

Yet this year, among the usual, more obscure high-brow offerings, there are some intriguing more populist events.

Perhaps one of the best examples of this blurring of the artistic edges of the EIF and Fringe finds Irish songbird Camille O’Sullivan abandoning the city’s many makeshift August venues in favour of the Royal Lyceum, where she will star in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s one-woman production of The Rape of Lucrece.

The most ambitious productions of this year’s event will take place at Ingliston’s Royal Highland Centre, which will be transformed into ‘theatre warehouse’ hosting three major productions including a Polish Macbeth, a German take on My Fair Lady and Theatre du Soliel’s The Castaways Of The Fol Espoir (Sunrises), a piece loosely based on a posthumous novel by Jules Verne, author of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

Now, while the whole point of Shakespeare is arguably the delivery of his text, the above should be worth a look just for the sheer spectacle of the venue.

For dance fans, the hot ticket tag will be fiercely contested by Mariinsky Ballet’s classically choreographed Cinderella, at the Festival Theatre, and Juillard Dance, the New York company famous for ‘guerilla dancing’ - think a flashmob that dances instead of singing. While not guaranteed, it’s worth watching out for possible performances when, and where, you least expect, otherwise catch them at the Playhouse.

Another dance highlight, also at the Playhouse, sees Rio de Janeiro’s Deborah Colker Dance Company bring a samba beat to the European premiere of Tatyana, a contemporary Brazilian take on Pushkin’s famous tale of young love and passion, Eugen Onegin.

Opera fans, meanwhile, will be among the first to experience the newly refurbished King’s Theatre when the venue stages four new works from Scottish Opera, including the world premiere of The Lady From the Sea, by Craig Armstrong, based on Henrik Ibsen’s play of the same name.

Other King’s highlights set to give audiences their first encounter with the Leven Street theatre’s new seats and ventilation system include the return of director Silviu Purcarete who, after his stunning Faust in 2009, brings a new production of Gulliver’s Travels... in Romanian.

The most spectacular production to visit the Capital this year, however, could well prove to be Gaguka, an evening of Japanese Imperial Court music and dance, which comes to the Festival Theatre for one night only and gives audiences a rare chance to enjoy the musicians of the Imperial Household Agency Tokyo, the oldest continuous orchestra in the world.

In the year of the Olympics, public art and sporting endeavour also merge with thousands of runners and walkers (you could be one) in NVA’s Speed of Light, ‘a mass choreographed act of walking and endurance running’, which will illuminate Arthur’s Seat throughout the Festival.

Finally at the Usher Hall, violin virtuoso Nicola Benedetti makes her EIF debut in the company of the London Symphony Orchestra, while at the Queen’s Hall, Kitty Whately, daughter of Inspector Morse and Lewis star Kevin, opens the EIF’s morning concert series.

And if all that has left you with the desire to do more than just passively spectate at this year’s Festival, there’s still a chance to take part as The Festival Chorus are currently looking for new members to take part in the opening concert. Contact chorus@eif.co.uk for details.

• 2012 EIF runs from August 9-September 2, tickets for all events go on sale on Saturday