WELSH singing sensation Katherine Jenkins has heralded the opening of Newport's new Riverfront theatre as "fantastic for Welsh culture".

The 24-year-old is the star attraction at next Friday's gala night, where she will perform with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Speaking to the Argus ahead of the sell-out show, she said: "I am very much looking forward to the concert.

"The opening of the Riverfront will be fantastic for Wales. Anything that will encourage people to become more interested in the arts and involved in Welsh culture can only be a good thing."

Mezzo soprano Katherine Jenkins is one of the stars of British classical music, having risen to fame as the 'unofficial' mascot of the Welsh rugby team, singing Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau before matches at the Millennium Stadium.

Her debut album Premiere, was a top seller and the eagerly anticipated follow- up, Second Nature, is released on Monday.

Speaking about next week's show, Ms Jenkins, who is a former school music teacher from Neath said: "I will be doing something completely different and taking a step away from what I normally do. I will be performing more songs from Broadway and have picked those that suit my voice."

Among the songs set to be performed in next week's show are Summertime, Someone to Watch Over Me and pieces from West Side Story "I have worked with Carl Davis (who will conduct the show) a few times now so we know each other well."

And Wales' arts lovers are in for more treats, as Cardiff Millennium Centre follows in the footsteps of the Riverfront with its grand opening. Events planned there in November include a show with Max Boyce.

Next year Katherine Jenkins will follow in the footsteps of Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey with her own show in Las Vegas, becoming the first British classical artist to do so.

She said: "Everything has gone so well for me. I have done so many remarkable things, but I still have the same friends and my family will keep my feet on the ground.

"The past year has been amazing, but I know I am still the same Katherine."