Ibsen, who died in Oslo on 23 May 1906 at 78, remains one of the biggest names of world literature, and is sometimes described as the father of modern drama because of the realism and psychological tension of his plays.

 

His homeland declared 2006 as The Year of Ibsen, with more that 4000 events worldwide starting with Saturday's official opening before 900 invited guests at the Oslo City Hall.

 

The opening drew such stars as Norwegian Liv Ullmann, Bibi Andersson of Sweden, German Angela Winkler, France's Isabelle Huppert and Glenda Jackson and Claire Bloom of Britain, all honoured with the Ibsen Centennial Award for their performances in his works.

 

Earlier on Saturday, Jonas Gahr Stoere, the Norwegian foreign minister, hosted a lunch for the winners at the Ibsen Museum.

 

Gala performances

 

The Norwegian scribe might not have immediately recognised his own work in opening gala performances, with versions that include rap, ballet, cultural dances and even in the African language of Swahili and as a Chinese opera.

 

A special Ibsen 20-kroner coin
has been released

The state Bank of Norway got a jump on celebrations this week by releasing a special Ibsen 20-kroner coin.

 

The back side of the coin shows the bearded Ibsen striding along in his characteristic top hat and long coat.

 

Events through the year also include seminars, festivals, the release of new books, including biographies and exhibitions.

 

There are also commemorations planned in Britain, Germany, Egypt, Bangladesh and in the heavily Scandinavian US state of Minnesota.

 

Norway has also set up an internet site in 18 languages, with lists of events in 91 countries.

 

Ibsen's 26 plays include A Doll's House, Brant, Peer Gynt, Ghosts, An Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck, Hedda Gabler and The Master Builder.