Trio of Austria cities to host summer festivals

NEW YORK -- Summer is festival time in Austria, and the cities of Vienna, Salzburg and Bregenz each offer festivals that last more than a month.

Vienna Festival 2000 (May 12 to June 18) will open in City Hall square, with a concert conducted by Zubin Mehta and featuring the Vienna Philharmonic, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, the Arnold Schoenberg Choir and the Vienna Singverein.

Last year, the Vienna Festival drew about 150,000 visitors, according to the Austrian National Tourist Office.

"The Vienna Festival is the most diversified and the most extravagant of the three festivals," a tourist office spokeswoman said.

"It encompasses the Vienna Music Festival, a theater festival, ballet and modern dance performances at several different venues in Vienna," she added.

In contrast to the Vienna Festival, the Salzburg Festival from July 23 to Aug. 31 is primarily a classical music event.

In 1999, the Salzburg Festival drew 238,453 visitors -- 78% of whom were from abroad, according to the tourist office.

"It is definitely the most well known but isn't so large in terms of number of performances," the spokeswoman said. "The Salzburg Festival is the most classical and the most traditional."

The theme of the 2000 Salzburg Festival, "Troy and Love," will be depicted in performances of Hector Berlioz's "Les Troyens," Jacques Offenbach's "La Belle Helene" and Christoph Willibald Gluck's "Iphigenie en Tauride."

According to the spokeswoman, the main attraction of the Bregenz Festival, which takes place July 20 to Aug. 23, is Lake Constance, on which the opera stage floats.

In 2000, the production for the lake stage of the Bregenz Festival is Verdi's opera "Un Ballo in Maschera."

"Usually the performances they give there are modern -- not what you would expect from a traditional opera house," said Doris Clark, owner of Smolka Tours in Tinton Falls, N.J., which packages FIT tours to each of the three big festival cities in Austria.

The Bregenz Festival draws an average of 200,000 visitors each year, according to the tourist office.

Austrian National Tourist Office
Phone: (212) 575-7723
Fax: (212) 730-4568

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