Vienna Opera Ball to pay tribute to Chopin

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Musical and ballet tributes to composer Frederic Chopin, a medley of opera arias and a flutter of ballgowns will fill Vienna's State Opera House on February 11 for the 54th edition of its glamourous Ball.

In a year celebrating the Polish composer's 200th birthday, the world famous opera house has recruited the creme de la creme to open proceedings at its annual waltz fest, organisers said Tuesday.

Dancers from the Vienna and Warsaw ballets will perform together to Chopin's Scherzo Nr. 1 - "a piece that is important as a link with Vienna because it is one piece that Chopin conceived in Vienna," noted choreographer Giorgio Madia.

In an Opera Ball first, pianist and 1985 Chopin-prize winner Krzysztof Jablonski will play this piece and the Minute Waltz, to be performed by students of the Vienna Opera Ballet, live on stage.

Top soloists of Vienna's opera house have also been recruited to perform a short medley of 14 opera arias assembled by in-house conductor Alfred Eschwe.

They range from Bizet's Carmen to Puccini's La Boheme and, closer to home, Richard Strauss's Die Fledermaus, not forgetting works by Wagner, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Rossini and Lehar.

The annual Ball, a high-society event, has been broadcast live since 2000, reaching millions of viewers at home and abroad.

A glamourous affair where businessmen and politicians mingle with local celebrities and wannabees, the Opera Ball is an exclusive event, with tickets going for 230 euros apiece. A top box can fetch up to 17,000 euros.