Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
A visit here by the historic and celebrated Dresden State Opera of East Germany is being negotiated as a follow-up to the brilliant exhibition of Dresden art which opened Thursday in the new East Building of the National Gallery of Art.
Hans-Joachim Hoffmann, minister of culture for the German Democratic Republic, said Thursday that "negotiations are under way with the Kennedy Center, but we are still in the process of deciding how to do it, because to bring an opera company here is very difficult."
The Kennedy Center's Roger L. Stevens, among guests at a party given by East German Ambassador Rolf Sieber in honor of Hoffmann, said that on Wendesday over lunch he and the minister had discussed the possibility of bringing the Dresden company to Washington.
"I said that I was told the Dresden Opera was marvelous but too tough financially," said Stevens, explaning that the East Germans want the United States to pay transport expenses.
"They said, 'You're rich,' and I said, 'You're rich,'" Stevens said recounting the conversation. "After all, the United States has a deficit of $2.5 million a month, and East Germany is one of the leading industrial nations in the world."
For his part, Hoffmann said Thursday that, "You have to be sure the expense and the result are really balanced. Once the opera is here, there have to be assurances that there is an itinerary that works on a basis beneficial to both governments."
The Dresden Opera would join a distinguished list of world opera companies, including La Scala, the Paris and the Bolshoi, that have performed at the Kennedy Center. The Vienna Opera is due in the fall of 1979, and a logical next step after that would be an engagement here by the Dresden company.
Later Thursday, Stevens explained that the exchange with Hoffmann had begun in a "sort of kidding" manner at the luncheon on Wednesday."I told him I thought it was a shame not to have live performing people rather than inanimate ofjects. The minister said they would like to have live performing people here as well."
Then Thursday, Stevens said, the East German ambassador sounded very encouraging as well, and by that night Hoffmann indicated that even some of the financial roadblocks might be overcome.
Stevens said there were no dates discussed nor even repertoire. "It takes a couple of year for that kind of thing to be worked out."
The Dresden Opera has long been regarded as one of the world's most distinguished companies. It is particularly famous for its long association with the works of Richard Strauss. It was Dresden that the premieres of five of Strauss' most important operas occurred: "Salome," "Elektra," "The Egyptian Helen," "Arabella" and "Der Rosenkavalier," perhaps the most famous and important of post-Wagnerian German operas.
In the postwar years, the Dresden Opera has maintained its standards under a Communist regime at so high a level that many important Western performers have continued to perform and record with the company. They include such figures as conductor. Herbert Von Karajan, who recorded Wagner's "Die Meistersinger" with the Dresden company several years ago, and Conductor Karl Bohm, whose noted recorded performance of Beethoven's "Fidelio" was made in Dresden.
Hoffmann was in good humor as he joined Sieber in welcoming guests, who included many of the principals in arranging the Dresden art exhibition. There was J. Carter Brown, director of the National Gallery; Charles Parklhurst, gallery assistant director; and the entire East German contigent led by Joachim Menzhausen, who called the exhibit the realization of a dream - "and it's very rare a human being who can say that."
As director of the Green Vault, the treasury of the Electors of Saxony, and self-described as the GDR's scientific secretary," Menzhausen predicted that the East Germans will never again put together an exhibition of the extent of the Dresden one here now.
He said his original intention had been to bring along the Dresden Stats-Kappella as a kind of musical adjunct of the art exhibit but that a summer music festival in Dresden had ruled out that possibility.
"But you can expect the Gewand haus Orchestra of Leipzig next year - true Saxon music, and an orchestra very famous for Johann Sebastian Bach," he said.
There were those in the crowd who hailed the exhibit as East Germany's "grand debut" in the United States.
"They've got a real public-relations problem. Americans think of them as building walls and shooting people," said an American official. "The value of this kind of exposure to the cultural background of the GDR is of inestimable worth to the American community. No one will change his views overnight, but it's a beginning."