An unprecedented pair of collaborative festivals involving Soviet and American creative and performing artists will take place in Boston next spring and Moscow in 1989, Sarah Caldwell, artistic director of the Opera Company of Boston, announced yesterday. The news was released simultaneously in Moscow.

The opening event of Boston's Festival of Soviet Music, scheduled for March 16-April 3, will be the U.S. premiere of Rodion Shchedrin's opera "Dead Souls," based on the Gogol novel. Caldwell will direct the Opera Company of Boston production, with decor by Valerie Leventhal of Moscow's Bolshoi Theater. The cast will feature both Russian and American singers.

Another festival highlight will be the U.S. premiere of two full-length ballets choreographed by the celebrated 61-year-old Soviet ballerina Maya Plisetskaya -- "Anna Karenina" and "The Seagull" -- both with scores by Shchedrin, who is Plisetskaya's husband. Plisetskaya will dance in both works along with 65 dancers of the Bolshoi Ballet, as well as in several repertory "highlights" programs featuring the U.S. premiere of a one-act ballet, "The Lady With the Little Dog," also choreographed by Plisetskaya to music by Shchedrin.

The twin festivals -- Moscow's Festival of American Music will open in October 1989 -- were conceived and planned by Caldwell, Shchedrin and Plisetskaya. The aim is to introduce performers, students and audiences of both nations to major contemporary trends of composition and performance in each country.

Composers, conductors, directors, designers, singers, musicians, dancers, music journalists, teachers and students from both countries will work together in preparing performances for the two festivals.

Among the other institutions scheduled to participate in the Boston festival are the Boston Symphony, the New England Conservatory, Boston University's School of Fine Arts, the Boston Ballet School and the Cathedral Choir of the Archdiocese of Boston. More than 100 singers and dancers from the Kirov Opera and the Bolshoi Opera and Ballet will join the American artists.

Other festival events include a series of 12 "Profile Concerts," each devoted to the music of a living Soviet composer; the premiere of Soviet composer Alfred Schnittke's full-length "Requiem Mass" with Caldwell conducting; and three all-Russian programs by the Boston Symphony, including the American premieres of Schnittke's Symphony No. 1 and Sofia Gubaidulina's "Offeratorium" for violin and orchestra, with Gidon Kremer as soloist. Gennady Rozhdestvensky and Charles Dutoit will conduct.

The program for the 1989 festival in Moscow was not announced.