The partnership between the two organizations will also mean that Royal Opera House programmes broadcast on the BBC will also be available on the BBC iPlayer.

The arrangement will be initially for two seasons with eight productions (opera or ballet) broadcast on BBC2 and BBC4.

First up is Wayne McGregor's production of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Handel's Acis and Galatea (opening at the Royal Opera House tonight), which will go out on BBC4 in May. The double bill will also appear on DVD later in the year.

Antonio Pappano, Music Director of The Royal Opera will present a three-part series, Viva Opera Italia on BBC4, which will chart the history of Italian Opera from Monteverdi to Puccini. To be broadcast in summer 2010, the series will feature Royal Opera House productions with additional filming behind the scenes in Covent Garden and explore the power and passion of Italian Opera.

BBC Radio 3 increases its coverage from the Royal Opera House to a minimum of 15 broadcasts each year which will also include ballet. A special eight-week season begins on 16 May with Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffman with other earlier performances including Bellini's I Capuleti e I Montecchi with Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca and Bryn Terfel in Wagner's Der Fliegende Höllander.

The BP Summer Big Screen showings of ROH productions will continue in 14 different locations around the country. These free outdoor screenings provide the opportunity for people from Cardiff to Middlesborough to Plymouth to enjoy opera and ballet in an outdoor setting and the three productions for 2009 are Ondine, La traviata, and The Barber of Seville.

- Simon Thomas