Bjork develops Biophilia while Damon Albarn shuns Tudor dress for festival, 18 mars 2011

The director of the Manchester international festival has revealed more about Bjork’s world premiere of new material and says he is "pretty sure" that Damon Albarn will not perform his own new work wearing a pointy wizard’s hat. Tickets for the third festival, which takes place biennially in Manchester, have gone on sale.

Discussing some of its highlights, director Alex Poots said he had been trying to work with Bjork for over a decade, and that she had "been waiting for technology to catch up with her". The Icelandic singer will be in residence in Manchester for three weeks and stage a new show called Biophilia, which Poots describes as "a union of music, nature and science". For it, she has created the world’s "first app album" in collaboration with Apple. Poots said that the app will let users play games and explore further aspects of the music.

"One of the ideas of wanting to do Biophilia is to re-enchant people with the processes behind learning about music – [Bjork] has often found that in schools it can be a little academic and dry," Poots added.

The festival will also see the premiere of Albarn’s new work, a collaboration with theatre director Rufus Norris. The Blur frontman previously visited the festival with Monkey : Journey to the West, a collaboration with Chinese director Chen Shi-Zheng, in 2007. "You get a lot more out of an artist if you have an understanding of how they work," said Poots.

Albarn’s new show, Doctor Dee, will tell the story of the noted Elizabethan alchemist who was Elizabeth I’s confidant. Albarn will sing in the piece, but Poots laughed off the suggestion he will appear in costume, stressing that his appearance will be as a musician, not as an actor.

The festival, which runs from 30 June to 17 July, will also feature appearances from acts including Snoop Dogg and Victoria Wood. The Guardian is media sponsor.

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