Stage, screen and recording legend Julie Andrews rings in the new year as she hosts From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2010 on Friday, January 1 at 2:30 and 9 p.m. (ET) on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances on PBS (check local listings). Joining her for the annual Vienna Philharmonic holiday extravaganza will be celebrated conductor Georges Prêtre, who will lead the orchestra in a sparkling program of Strauss Family waltzes, marches and polkas. The telecast marks the second appearance for Andrews as host and also for Prêtre as conductor of the program, beamed around the world to an estimated 1.2 billion viewers from the Musikverein, the gilded hall that houses the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Also featured are dance sequences performed live on location at Vienna’s magnificent art history museum by members of the Vienna State Opera and Volksopera ballet, with guest appearances by Paris Opera Ballet principal soloists Nicholas Le Riche and Eleonora Abbagnato, choreographed by Renato Zanella and costumed by world renowned fashion designer Valentino.
“It is such a thrill to be back in Vienna’s Musikverein for New Year’s Day,” says Andrews. “Everything is so beautifully decorated for the occasion, with over 30,000 blooms from San Remo on the Italian Riviera turning the golden Hall into a sea of flowers.” Ms. Andrews carries on for longtime host Walter Cronkite, who passed away this year. The venerable newsman first hosted the PBS broadcast of the concert in 1985.
A Great Performances favorite, Andrews has appeared many times on the series, including her one-woman concert in 1990, a biographical profile on the occasion of her return to Broadway in Victor/Victoria in 1995, two My Favorite Broadway specials, concert tributes to Alan Jay Lerner and Oscar Hammerstein II, and the encore broadcast of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella in 2004. Andrews also hosted the Emmy-winning series Broadway: The American Musical in 2004. Prêtre was last seen on Great Performances conducting the 2008 New Year’s Day concert.
Musical highlights of From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2010 include Offenbach’s overture to “The Rhine Mermaids,” as well as such Johann Strauss favorites as the overture to “Die Fledermaus,” the “Viennese Bonbons” waltz, the “Champagne Polka,” the “Blue Danube Waltz,” and the traditional concert-closer, his father Johann Sr.’s “Radetzsky March.” The varied location sequences find host Andrews touring Carnuntum—the ancient Roman metropolis built on the banks of the Danube—as well as riding Vienna’s legendary Ferris wheel in the “Prater” amusement park. The Philharmonic’s performance of the ravishing “Blue Danube” waltz is accompanied by equally lush cinematography tracing the origin of the mighty river in the Black Forest to its destination in the Black Sea.
“Since we first presented this concert more than 25 years ago, we are proud and delighted it’s become a beloved broadcast tradition at holiday time,” says David Horn, Executive Producer of the telecast and Great Performances. “Needless to say, we look forward to the next 25 years of high spirits and irresistible melody.” From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2010 is directed by Brian Large, with John Walker as program producer and writer.
Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, Vivian Milstein, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers, and PBS. Exclusive corporate funding for this telecast is provided by Rolex. Major support for the telecast is also provided by The Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund and Vera von Kuffner Eberstadt.
For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer and David Horn is Executive Producer.