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Huge sound-and-light show for Waterloo bicentenary

The battlefields of Waterloo in Belgium will resonate to a huge sound-and-light show on June 18 to mark the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s defeat at the hands of British and Prussian forces, organisers said Tuesday.

Hundreds of performers will take part in the open-air evening event titled “Inferno”, which will have space for up to 12,000 spectators, director Luc Petit told a press conference at the battle site.

A special battle reconstruction on June 19 and 20 with 6,000 participants — twice the size of the annual Waterloo re-enactment staged by history enthusiasts — has already been announced.

“Inferno will not be a re-creation but a personal vision, full of emotion and with a lot of the spirit of cinema,” Petit told reporters.

Up to 300 actors will take part in the show on a stage 150 metres long, with giant screens, pyrotechnics, dancers, classical musicians and local choirs promising a noisy experience.

A small contingent of history enthusiasts in costume will take part in the sound-and-light show as well as the official re-enactment involving some 5,000 people over the following two days.

The first day will show the French cavalry charge, the second the victorious British-led riposte, featuring horses and cannon.

Up to 60,000 spectators are expected to turn out.

French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was forced into exile after his grand European ambitions were crushed at the hands of the Duke of Wellington’s forces at the June 18, 1815 battle.

In one day some 32,000 French, 15,000 English and 7,000 Prussian soldiers lost their lives.