Are You in a Great Performances Holiday State of Mind? Streisand, Pavarotti, Hamlisch, the Return of Downton Abbey
By: Ellis Nassour
PBS Great Performances and THIRTEEN have quite a classic treat in store to ring in the holidays on Friday, November 29, from 9-11 P.M.: Barbra Streisand: Back to Brooklyn, a telecast of the diva’s historic Brooklyn homecoming to christen the 19,000-seat, $1-billion Barclays Center, which marked her "home" concert since her childhood [and her first concert in six years]. She performs 27 tunes from her five-decade career, joined by guests Il Volo, Chris Botti, a 60-piece orchestra led by William Ross, and, in quite a touching segment, her son Jason Gould.
"I love people from Brooklyn because they’re real," she tells adoring fans, her nails glistening from a high gloss polish. "They’re down to earth. They tell it like it is. By the way, the last time I sang in Brooklyn was on a stoop on Pulaski Street."
Needless to say from her entrance ovation to her exit ovation, she had the audience eating out of her hands. Songs are framed by video montages of Streisand’s childhood and early career – the likes of alma mater Erasmus High School, the Loews Kings, the Dodgers, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn Heights, even her yeshiva.
Tunes include "The Way We Were" in tribute to Marvin Hamlisch; "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered," which she sang in 1963 during her memorable appearance on The Judy Garland Show; her duet with Donna Summer, "Enough is Enough (No More Tears)"; "My Funny Valentine," "Evergreen," and "Lost Inside of You" with Chris Botti; backed by Botti, Gould, Il Volo, and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, "Make Our Garden Grow" from Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, which she recorded for a 1988 unreleased Broadway album; "Smile" with Il Volo: "Somewhere"; "Some Other Time"; and a rousing finale of "Happy Days Are Here Again."
You’ll hear specialty lyrics to "As If We Never Said Goodbye" and "You’re the Top"; and different arrangements from her recordings. Among highlights is a tribute to Jule Styne with a medley of tunes from Funny Girl; and Styne and Sondheim with songs from Gypsy.Barbra Streisand: Back to Brooklyn has also just been released in a deluxe DVD/CD edition (Columbia Records; SRP $20).
Barbra Streisand: Back to Brooklyn has also just been released in a deluxe DVD/CD edition (Columbia Records; SRP $20).
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Great Performances offers opera lovers a holiday season treat Saturday, November 30 from 6:30 – 7:30 P.M. [telecast PBS-wide in December] with Pavarotti: A Voice for the Ages, which celebrates the acclaimed tenor’s larger-than-life personality, charm, and his 50-year career with performances from anon Aida, La Boheme, Manon-Lescaut, Rigoletto Turandot; and Neapolitan songs in arrangements by Henry Mancini, including "Mamma" and ""O Sole Mio" (with the Three Tenors); "Miss Sarajevo" with Bono; "Holy Mother" with Eric Clapton; and "Panis Angelicus" with Sting.
A highlight will be Rodolfo’s aria from La Bohème, "Che gelida manina (Your tiny hand is frozen)" which lay hidden in record archives for 50 years, to be unearthed last year by Pavarotti’s widow, Nicoletta Mantovani.
December 1 from 9-10:30 P.M. Return to Downton Abbey will take viewers behind-the-scenes for compelling aspects of the program, cast interviews and notes from creator Julian Fellowes, and clips that’ll bring back fond memories of the series three seasons and give a sneak peek of the upcoming fourth season. Susan Sarandon hosts.
The clips are structured around three themes: "The Changing World of Downton Abbey," "The Women of Downton Abbey," and "Love and Other Relationships at Downton Abbey."
The new season of eight episodes, with the Crawley family continuing to be gripped by social change, conflicting interests in the how the estate is run, romantic intrigues, profound sadness, and personal crises, begins on January 5 as time shifts to the Roaring 20s.
Returning are Hugh Bonneville [Earl of Grantham], Laura Carmichael [Lady Edith], Jim Carter [Mr. Carson], Brendan Coyle [Bates], Michelle Dockery [Lady Mary], Joanne Froggatt [Anna], Phyllis Logan [Mrs. Hughes], Elizabeth McGovern [Countess of Grantham], Sophie McShera [Daisy], Maggie Smith [Dowager Countess of Grantham], Lesley Nicol [Mrs. Patmore], and Penelope Wilton [Isobel Crawley]. There’ll be another visit by and more fireworks from Shirley MacLaine [American kin Martha Levinson] along with a visit by Paul Giamatti [Mr. Levinson].
Season Four ponders how Mary will cope now that the great love of her life, Matthew, is gone; the future of Anna and Bates; how change continues to affect social order at the English country estate much to the chagrin and raised eyebrows of Countess Violet.
American Masters Salutes HAMLISCH
December 27, American Masters presents the 90-minute Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did for Love at 9 P.M with interviews about the composer and conductor who earned a Pulitzer, Tony, three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, and three Golden Globes by Woody Allen, Ann-Margret, Lucie Arnaz, Quincy Jones, John Lithgow, Steven Soderbergh, Streisand, Sir Tim Rice, Christopher Walken, and others.Tony-winner Dori Berinstein directs.
Stage and screen legend Christopher Plummer brings his acclaimed 1997 Broadway portrayal of stage and film legend John Barrymore with William Luce’s Barrymore on January 31 from 9-10:30 P.M. The play is set in 1942 during the final months of The Great Profile’s life as he struggles to recreate his performance in Richard III while recalling the highs and lows of his remarkable life and career.
Another legend will be profile on American Masters, J.D. Salinger. Mark your calendar and set the DVR for Salinger on January 21 at 9 P.M. as along with rare photos and archival footage 150 friends and colleagues of the secretive writer speak of the meticulously built-up wall he build to remain reclusive. Discussed are his childhood, work methods, marriages, and the secrets he left behind on is 2010 death. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, Martin Sheen, Tom Wolfe, E.L. Doctorow, Gore Vidal, and others speak on the influence Salinger’s work had on their lives and careers.