The 110-year-old Vienna State Opera, coming to the United States this fall for the first time in its history, will give 14 opera performances exclusively in the Kennedy Center, it was announced yesterday.
The performances, between Oct. 26 and Nov. 11, will be under the baton of three of the world's leading conductors -- Leonard Bernstein, Karl Boehm and Zubin Mehta -- with casts headed by a number of international singing stars.
Additionally, three concerts will be presented under Boehm and Bernstein. These concerts, to be repeated in New York City, have the special attraction that the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is the regular orchestra of the State Opera.
The Kennedy Center audiences will hear five performances of Beethoven's "Fidelio" under Bernstein, and three each of Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro" and Richard Strauss' "Ariadne auf Naxos" under Boehm, with three of the Strauss "Salome" under Mehta.
The visit of the company, which follows similar appearances at the Kennedy Center of the Paris Opera, the Deutsche Oper of Berlin, La Scala of Milan, and the Bolshoi from Moscow, brings to Washington one of the greatest operatic institutions in the world.
Singing will be such stars as Gundula Janowitz, Gwyneth Jones, Christa Ludwig, Lucia Popp, Leonie Rysanek, Jess Thomas, Frederica von Stade, Walter Berry, and many others.
Complete casts and ticket prices are to be announced within 10 days to two weeks. The range of prices probably will match those at the Metropolitan Opera, which means a top of $37.50 for orchestra seats.
The total cost of the company's visit will be between $2.6 and 3 million, according to Martin Feinstein, executive director of the Kennedy Center.
Austrian Ambassador Karl Herbert Schober, who joined Feinstein and Kennedy Center Board Chairman Roger L. Stevens in making the announcement yesterday, said that in Vienna top prices reach $50, which represents only about one-fourth of the cost of each production per person. The Austrian government is paying $1.6 million toward the coming tour of the company whose opening concert on Oct. 26 will fall on Austria's national holiday.
The exact costs for the tour are now being determined jointly by the Kennedy Center's technical crew and the Vienna Opera. The Kennedy Center is hoping for a further grant in addition to major grants already made that might help to reduce ticket prices and help provide lower-priced tickets for senior and handicapped citizens.
The schedule of programs announced for the trip here means the orchestra will be playing 17 nights in a row
That schedule is: Opening concert, Boehm, Oct. 26; concerts, Bernstein, Oct. 29, Nov. 5; "Fidelio," Bernstein, Oct. 27, 31, Nov. 2, 7, 9; "Salome," Mehta, Cot. 28, Nov. 4, 11; "Marriage of Figaro," Boehm, Oct. 30, Nov. 1, 3; "Ariadne", Boehm, Nov. 6, 8, 10.
The Vienna State Opera, founded in 1869, has included among its music directors Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss. Recent years have seen it attain wide popularity and musical stature under such conductors as Herbert von Karajan and Bernstein..
Among the hundreds of stars whose names are enshrined there are Leo Slezak, Lotte Lehmann, Maria Jeritza, Richard Mayr and Richard Tauber, in addition to the great singers from all countries, nearly all of whom appeared there.
Its great house, which gives its name to Vienna's Opera Ring, was built in 1869. Following its destruction during World War II, it reopened in 1955 with Beethoven's "Fidelio." It has a seating capacity of 1,642, plus standing room for 547, which makes it almost exactly the same size as the Opera House of the Kennedy Center.