Sip New Year’s bubbly at home, tune in to great performances from around the world
Our selective guide to the best national broadcasts, international radio streams, concert replays and festive downloads to help you ring in New Year 2012.
By Nancy Malitz
At the change of the millennium, the world’s television networks did a great job of circling the globe, time zone by time zone, to watch as the year 2000 rang itself in. Since then it has been a particular pleasure to revel in far-flung international festivities from wherever on the globe I happen to find myself.
Staying in this New Year’s Eve, it will be easier than ever to enjoy performances you could not buy a ticket for. The Metropolitan Opera’s new production of “The Enchanted Island” is virtually sold out but you can hear it. The Vienna Philharmonic’s annual New Year’s Eve concert tickets are distributed by worldwide lottery nearly a year in advance, but you can watch it. You can even be part of the real-time audience to enjoy the world premiere (at stroke of London midnight) of a composition for church bells created by Howard Skempton as part of the run up to the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
So queue up your browsers, internet radios, Tivos and mobile apps, and check your clocks against Greenwich Mean Time. Here are some highlights to plan for, beginning mid-day New Year’s Eve:
- @ 1 p.m. Central, (2 p.m Eastern, 8 p.m. Vienna): From RadioStephansDom in Vienna, the all-classical station that takes its name from the nearby St. Stephen’s Cathedral, comes a special historic airing of Johann Strauss’ uproarious operetta “Die Fledermaus,” conducted by Herbert von Karajan in a legendary 1960 Vienna State Opera recording. It streams live over the internet. The delicious treat here is the lineup of Decca label headliners who drop in to lend their lungs to the Act II party sequence – Leontyne Price singing “Summertime,” Birgit Nilsson doing “I Could Have Danced all Night,” and Giulietta Simionato and Ettore Bastianini vying in “Anything You Can Do,” along with Sutherland, Björling, well just about everybody. (More details here.) If ever there were a great excuse to open the champagne early and get the New Year’s Eve festivities underway, this is it.
- @ 3:10 p.m. Central (4:10 p.m. Eastern, 9:10 p.m. London): BBC Radio 3 is planning a re-broadcast of its festive last night at the Proms, recorded at the Royal Albert Hall in September. It’s a chance to hear Lang Lang, the pianist with a rock star persona, perform Liszt’s First Piano Concerto and Chopin’s Grande Polonaise brillante, Op. 22, in a typical Proms program that offers something for everyone. It’s not often that you will hear the Immolation Scene from Wagner’s Götterdämmerung (sung by Susan Bullock) paired with songs from “The Sound of Music” and “Carousel,” but that’s the Proms and it suits Auld Lang Syne.
- @ 5 p.m. Central (6 p.m. Eastern, Midnight in Vienna): One can queue up the ringing of the Pummerin, the largest swinging bell in Austria, from the top of St. Stephen’s, on one of its rare soundings, followed by jazz into the night at Radio Österreich 1(Ö1) . The station broadcasts live over the internet. (Exactly one hour later, at Midnight London time, you can watch and listen on the City of London’s site as Big Ben bongs against the firework-lit sky.
- @ 5:30 Central (6:30 p.m. in New York City): The buzz is tremendous over the Metropolitan Opera’s new holiday offering, which receives its world premiere on New Year’s Eve. ”The Enchanted Island” is a remix of Baroque arias and Shakespearean fantasy in a grand mash-up that the Met hopes will become a new holiday tradition, to be broadcast live over the internet, and for iPhone, Blackberry and Android users, as well for subscribers to Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 74). The opera’s comprised largely of Handel arias, with some Rameau and Vivaldi mixed in, to serve a new story created by librettist Jeremy Sams from beloved threads of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” And it stars Met counter-tenor David Daniels, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and the indefatigable Plácido Domingo in yet another new role. (On Jan. 21, an HD broadcast is planned for cinemas in the U.S. and Canada, so this is a chance to sneak a preview.)
- @ 7 p.m. Central (8 p.m. in New York City): The New York Philharmonic’s sold-out New Year’s Eve concert will be broadcast live from Avery Fisher Hall over the PBS network according to longstanding tradition, and this year the focus is on ebullient music of Gershwin and Bernstein. French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet will play two Gershwin sparklers — the Concerto in F and the “Rhapsody in Blue.” Alan Gilbert conducts the Overture to Bernstein’s “Candide” and the Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story.” (The program will be available on replay for a week at the PBS website.)
- @ 7 p.m. Central (8 p.m. Eastern) through Midnight and beyond in four time zones: NPR’s Toast of the Nation Celebrates 2012 is an all-night jazz broadcast that hops around to various venues from Boston to L.A. Artists include young virtuoso guitarist Julian Lage, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis from Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, pianist Billy Childs live from the Blue Whale in Los Angeles and headliners from the Newport and Detroit Jazz Festivals such as Dianne Reeves, Regina Carter, Miguel Zenón and Trombone Shorty.
The festivities continue on New Year’s Day with the following re-broadcasts:
- @1 p.m. Central (2 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m. Berlin) New Year’s Day: Medici.tv replays this year’s Berlin Philharmonic Silvesterkonzert in high-def video from New Year’s Eve. Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin performs the once-overplayed Grieg Concerto, which he has made welcome once again in many cities. Principal conductor Sir Simon Rattle conducts Ravel’s “Alborada del gracioso” along with excerpts from Strauss’ “Salome,” Stravinsky’s “The Firebird,” Brahms’ “Hungarian Dances” and Dvorak’s “Slavonic Dances.” (If audio alone is sufficient, then you can hear this concert a day earlier over Berlin’s KulturRadio RBB. The live simulcast on New Year’s Eve occurs at 11:30 a.m. Central (12:30p.m. Eastern, 6:30 p.m. Berlin.) Click ‘Live Stream’ to listen.)
- @ 6:30 p.m. Central on New Year’s Day (check local PBS listings for times in other markets): From Vienna’s Musikverein: The New Year’s Celebration 2012 is broadcast by PBS in an annual custom that extends back to 1985. A seemingly effortless affair, it features an array of echt-Viennese waltzes, marches, polkas and gallops by Strauss and his circle, performed by the musicians of the Vienna Philharmonic, for whom this music’s in the blood. Under the direction of Mariss Jansons, hosted by Julie Andrews and featuring the Vienna Choir Boys. Sony Classical will issue a CD on demand as well as DVD and Blu-Ray in early 2012.
- @ anytime you please, through Jan. 2: Available from the BBC, on demand, is a rare chance to catch Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” with a the splendid introductory and incidental music of the teenaged Mendelssohn, complete. (Once you click the ‘Listen Now’ button, you can fast forward to the 3 minute 50 mark, where the Shakespeare program begins.) The show was recorded at Middle Temple Hall, which was erected in 1562 and where Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” was performed in 1602.