My Viennese New Year’s with Julie Andrews

January 5th, 2009

Inside Thirteen Blogger: Cara Cosentino, coordinating producer, Great Performances

Can you imagine a chance to be in Vienna to welcome the new year with none other than Julie Andrews? Well, that’s exactly what I had the good fortune of doing last week.

Working on staff on the Great Performances series, I have the incredible chance to travel to different cities, work with talented artists and be immersed in all genres of music.

I will confess the annual New Year’s concert is one of my personal favorites, one I look forward to all year. How can you not love being in Vienna listening to Johann Strauss’ waltzes with Walter Cronkite during the holiday season?

As most people know, the legendary Walter Cronkite had been our host for our “From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration” for the past 24 years. I had the opportunity to work with Mr. Cronkite for several New Year’s, and as any viewer will know, he left pretty big shoes to fill. This year, Miss Julie Andrews succeeded him as host. I’m sure you’ll agree that there is no
better person for the job.

It’s always a little nerve-wracking to work with a celebrity for the first time, especially one as iconic as Julie. But as soon as she stepped on set, all fears were eased. She is as gracious, beautiful and warm as I imagined her to be. What an honor to work with someone you’ve admired your entire life, and have them exceed your expectations. She is a true pro and every
bit a class act.

In Vienna, classical music is as essential as food or drink. That much is clear in every location we shot in. You can’t walk three feet without seeing ads for classical concerts, Mozart Kugels being sold by the pound, or miniature Strauss statues. They are as abundant as Statue of Liberty souvenirs on the streets of NYC!

We’ve shot in Haydn’s house, the Redoutensaal (a concert hall within the Imperial Palace where Strauss, Beethoven and Mozart performed in), Esterhazy Castle – and of course – the Musikverein. Julie was as excited to visit these sites as we were. And, of course, to hear the polkas and waltzes of the Strauss family.

This year, our show is in high definition, and I think it’s as close to sitting in the famous Austrian hall without leaving your American couch, but you can see for yourself.