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French maestro Georges Pretre, 87, and Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu will provide the artistic openers at this year's Opera Ball, the highlight of Vienna's ball season, organisers said Tuesday.
Pretre, who already held the baton at Vienna's renowned New Year's concert in 2008 and 2010, "is very much appreciated and loved by the orchestra," State Opera director and fellow Frenchman Dominique Meyer told journalists.
"It is great that he will be with us for this celebration."
For the 56th time, the Vienna Opera will host the creme de la creme of Austrian society on February 16 for a night of waltzing and socialising.
Opening the ball, Pretre will conduct the State Opera's orchestra in the overture from Rossini's "Barber of Seville," the Habanera aria from Bizet's "Carmen" and "I Could Have Danced All Night" from Frederick Loewe's "My Fair Lady," the last two sung by Gheorghiu.
Dancers from the Vienna Ballet will also perform a piece by French choreographer Pierre Lacotte to music by Johann Strauss, father and son.
Broadcast live on Austrian television, the Opera Ball is the highlight of the Viennese social calendar, with ticket prices starting at 250 euros ($327) and boxes going for as much as 18,500 euros.
Some 5,500 guests will attend the sold-out event, which kicks off traditionally with the entrance of dozens of debutantes in white dresses and their partners in tailcoats.
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