News Column

PBS' 'Salute to Vienna' an all-star event

July 28, 2013

YellowBrix

July 28--If you think opera and classical music is staid and boring, you're in for a jolt from "A Salute to Vienna."

The new two-hour special, taped live in Vienna in April, is light and fun. It's an entertainment special filled with operetta, ballet, polka and ballroom dancing and, of course, sopranos, tenors and a baritone.

It's a show with world-class talent that will never be re-created, said executive producer Maura Daly Phinney in a phone interview.

"The way we envisioned this is as a once-in-a-lifetime gala performance in Vienna," said Phinney, who is senior producer and on-air fundraising manager for KPBS Public Broadcasting in San Diego.

"Normally on tour, you couldn't get all these people in concert. The show taped in April was the dream version of 'The Salute in Vienna' (the concert tour). All the top opera stars from Vienna were on stage plus all the best talent from all over Europe plus hosts Frederica von Stade and Maximilian Schell. It was sort of like the uber version of the tour. And it will never be recreated again live because it was really done specifically for PBS."

The special, which is edited down from a three and a half-hour concert, is fast-paced and energetic.

"That was important because we are making a TV show, not a classical recording," Phinney said. "I was really pleased with all the pieces coming together -- my favorite scenes are the ones with the Hungarian dancers and the one with all the men singing all together and doing the can-can line. And the song from Maximilian Schell came late in the process because he is not really a singer but it ended up being the emotional highlight of the whole show."

The song Academy Award winning actor and co-host Schell sang in German was "That's the Way it is," said former Oklahoman Susie Dowdy, associate producer and publicist for the show. "It's about going through life and reflecting. He is 82 now."

Planning for the show took a year and a half plus nine months of intense production leading up to the taping on April 25 in Vienna's historic Wiener Konzerthaus, Phinney said.

All the performers rehearsed in different locations and couldn't come together on stage until the afternoon before the taping, Phinney said.

"We were putting up lights and blocking the show. Chaos would be a nice way of putting it. But they were all good in the event -- they are stars. And that's why 90 percent of the PBS show is from the performance with very few parts inserted from the rehearsal."

In addition to extra footage from the actual show, the Vienna tourist board arranged for Phinney's film crew to tour Vienna so the DVD will contain 20 minutes of material about the musical heritage of Vienna.

"Since PBS gives education rights to schools, any school in the U.S. can download the show or tape it and air it in its classrooms," Dowdy said. "Attila is also working on a guide for teachers about all the famous composers from Vienna and Austria, the songs that were selected and why they were chosen for the show," she said. It will be available by the end of the year, and the show will be available to schools starting Aug. 3 at tulsaworld.com/salutetovienna

The TV special has a "lighter appeal than a classical performance program," Phinney said. "Ninety percent of the PBS stations have scheduled the special for pledge programs in August, including New York and San Francisco."

And, Dowdy added, the show is for all ages who enjoy a fast-paced performance.

"The average concert-goer for 'Salute to Vienna' is the same age as the average age of a symphony-goer and that is 45," said the president of her own Dowdy & Associate firm, former manager of communications for OETA for years and national publicist for "The Lawence Welk Show."

"So if we could bring that audience to public television, that would be great," Dowdy said.

OETA needs support pledges

"The pledges of support OETA receives from our viewers during AugustFest are invaluable. Viewer support is vital to ensuring OETA continues to provide content that inspires, informs and enriches the lives of all Oklahomans.

"The funds raised will help us provide new episodes of favorites including 'Masterpiece's Downton Abbey,' 'Nature,' 'NOVA,' 'Great Performances' and other series and specials that entertain and educate OETA's statewide audience."

- Dan Schiedel, executive director, Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, Oklahoma's statewide public television network.

Here's a sample of other programs airing during Augustfest 2013 on KOED, channel 11.

"Downton Abbey Revisited" takes a look behind the scenes of the hit series, including cast interview and recaps of seasons 1-3 and a sneak peek at season 4. It airs at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 4.

"Burt Barcharach's Best" features performances of the master composer's greatest hits with film and TV star Robert Wagner as your guide and pledge breaks hosted by recording star Marilyn McCoo, formerly with the Fifth Dimension. It airs at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 4

"Gloria Estefan: The Standards" features the superstar singer performing her favorites from America's Songbook with the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra, led and conducted by Grammy-Award nominee Shelly Berg, at the renowned New World Center. It airs at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6.

"The Jimmy Dean Show -- Country Classics" showcases episodes from the popular 1960s TV show with American singer, TV host, actor and businessman Jimmy Dean and a host of early appearance by country music greats. It airs at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6.

"60s Girl Grooves," which celebrates the music of those famous girl groups and females singers of the 1960s The Supremes, The Shirelles, The Ronettes, Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, Petula Clark, Martha & the Vandellas, Jackie DeShannon and many other favorites. It airs at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8.

"Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii" airs in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the concert that was staged live in Hawaii and beamed by satellite to 40 countries in 1973. Catch it at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10.

"The Dust Bowl: A Film by Ken Burns" lets viewers see what one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in America's history felt like to those who hung on and survived despite tragic losses and unbearable hardship. See part one of the film at 2 p.m. Saturday Aug. 4.

"American Masters: Johnny Carson" explores the work of the American TV host who commanded a nightly audience of 15 million at his peak but could never reconcile that public life with his extremely private persona. It airs at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4.

The "Best of Augustfest," featuring the top pledge programs, airs 7-10 p.m. Sunday Aug. 11.

The on-air goal for this summer's AugustFest pledge event Aug. 1-11 is $450,000, which will be used to purchase the best of public television programming.

"A Salute to Vienna, with hosts Frederica von Stade and Maximilian Schell, includes performances by The Vienna Boys Choir; Great Britain's classical-crossover tenor Russell Watson; dancers from the Association of Vienna State Opera Ballet; the Symphony Orchestra of the Volksoper Vienna directed by Peter Strauss; international singing stars soprano Daniela Fally, Iva Mihanovic, Monica Fischl and Alexandera Reinprecht; tenors Dmitry Korchak, Gergely Boncser and Tilman Unger; baritone Daniel Serafin; and stars from the Budapest Operetta Theater.

The TV special, a co-production of KPBS and Attila and Marion Glatz's production company, is designed to be "visually entertaining as well as musically diverse," said executive producer Maura Daly Phinney, who has worked in public television for more than 20 years and has earned numerous awards for her programs including two Emmy awards, a CINE Golden Eagle award and five Telly awards.

'Visually entertaining ... musically diverse'

hosts Frederica von Stade and Maximilian Schell, includes performances by The Vienna Boys Choir; Great Britain's classical-crossover tenor Russell Watson; dancers from the Association of Vienna State Opera Ballet; the Symphony Orchestra of the Volksoper Vienna directed by Peter Strauss; international singing stars soprano Daniela Fally, Iva Mihanovic, Monica Fischl and Alexandera Reinprecht; tenors Dmitry Korchak, Gergely Boncser and Tilman Unger; baritone Daniel Serafin; and stars from the Budapest Operetta Theater.

The TV special, a co-production of KPBS and Attila and Marion Glatz's production company, is designed to be "visually entertaining as well as musically diverse," said executive producer Maura Daly Phinney, who has worked in public television for more than 20 years and has earned numerous awards for her programs including two Emmy awards, a CINE Golden Eagle award and five Telly awards.

Rita Sherrow 918-581-8360

rita.sherrow@tulsaworld.com

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