Great Performances

Great Performances is a television anthology series dedicated to the performing arts; the banner has been used to televise theatrical performances such as plays, musicals, opera, ballet, concerts, as well as occasional documentaries. It is produced by the PBS member stations WNET in New York City (originally in conjunction with KQED San Francisco, WTTW Chicago, Maryland Public Television, South Carolina ETV and KERA-TV of Dallas/Fort Worth).

The series is the longest running performing arts anthology on television, and has won an Emmy Award, three Peabody Awards[1][2][3] and an Image Award, with nods from the Directors Guild of America and the Cinema Audio Society.[4]

The program's spin-off, Great Performances: Dance In America, which began on PBS in 1976, concentrates solely on dance. The first episode "Sue's Leg: Remembering the Thirties" featured choreography by Twyla Tharp. Later episodes featured such performers as Mikhail Baryshnikov. Although it is not seen as often as previously, there have recently been new Dance in America programs, such as the Emmy-winning 2005 production of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, starring Angel Corella, Gillian Murphy and the American Ballet Theatre.

In 2007, Great Performances began telecasting performances from the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD series,[5] a series of HD opera tapings re-purposed from their original purpose as Fathom Events films carried in high-quality movie theaters for a premium admission price.

Repeat guest hosts include Walter Cronkite, Julie Andrews and Whoopi Goldberg. Major underwriters throughout the show's run have included The National Endowment for the Arts, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS viewers, Exxon, Martin Marietta, Texaco, Deluxe, Duracell, Ernst & Young, Chase Manhattan Bank and UBS.

In 2009, a new theme music for Great Performances was introduced, composed by John Williams.[6]

Great Performances
GenrePerforming Arts
Directed bySteve Ruggi
Presented byWalter Cronkite (1988–2009); Julie Andrews (1989–present), among others
Theme music composerJohn Williams
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons47
Production company(s)WNET
Original networkPBS
Original releaseNovember 4, 1972 –
External links


Season 1 (1972–73)

Season 2 (1973–74)

  • The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd (January 16, 1974)
  • Enemies (January 23, 1974)
  • June Moon (January 30, 1974)
  • Cyrano de Bergerac (February 6, 1974)
  • Antigone (February 13, 1974)
  • King Lear (February 20, 1974)
  • In Fashion (March 20, 1974)
  • Feasting with Panthers (March 27, 1974)
  • Theater in America: A Touch of the Poet (May 15, 1974)
  • Monkey, Monkey, Bottle of Beer, How Many Monkeys Have We Here? (May 22, 1974)

Season 3 (1974–75)

  • The Windowing of Mrs. Holroyd (May 8, 1974)
  • Bernstein at Tanglewood (December 25, 1974)
  • The Seagull (January 5, 1975)
  • The Ceremony of Innocence (March 1, 1975)
  • The Rules of the Game (April 30, 1975)

Season 4 (1975–76)

  • Dance in America: Martha Graham Dance Company (April 7, 1976)
  • The Patriots (May 26, 1976)

Season 5 (1976–77)

  • Secret Service (January 12, 1977)
  • Arthur Rubinstein at 90 (January 26, 1977)

Season 6 (1977–78)

  • The Royal Family (November 9, 1977)[7]
  • Verna: USO Girl (January 25, 1978)
  • Uncommon Women and Others (May 24, 1978)

Season 7 (1978–79)

  • The Good Doctor (November 8, 1978)

Season 8 (1979–1980)

  • The Five Forty-Eight (November 7, 1979)
  • Samuel Beckett's Happy Days (June 25, 1980)

Season 9 (1980–81)

  • Beverly! Her Farewell Performance (January 5, 1981)
  • Great Performances at the Met: "L'Elisir D'Amore" (March 2, 1981)
  • The Girls in their Summer Dresses and Other Stories (June 1, 1981)

Season 10 (1981–82)

  • Norma (September 20, 1981)
  • La Clemenza di Tito (October 19, 1981)
  • Brideshead Revisited (January 18, 1982)

Season 11 (1982–83)

  • Great Performances' 10th Anniversary Celebration (December 6, 1982)
  • Ellington: The Music Lives On (March 7, 1983)
  • The Innocents Abroad (May 9, 1983)

Season 12 (1983–84)

  • Alice in Wonderland (October 3, 1983)
  • Callas: An International Celebration (December 11, 1983)
  • The Magic Flute (January 9, 1984)
  • La Cenerentola (February 6, 1984)
  • Choreographer's Notebook: Stravinsky Piano Ballets by Peter Martins (February 13, 1984)

Season 13 (1984–85)

Alice in Wonderland 1985)

Season 14 (1985-86)

  • Doctor Fischer of Geneva (October 11, 1985)
  • Three by Three (October 18, 1985)
  • Laurence Olivier—A Life (October 25, 1985)
  • The Gospel at Colonus (November 8, 1985)
  • (November 18, 1985)
  • Sylvia Fine Kaye's Musical Comedy Tonight III (The Spark and the Glue) (November 22, 1985)
  • The Importance of Being Earnest (November 29, 1985)
  • San Francisco Ballet in Cinderella (December 7, 1985)
  • Falstaff (December 13, 1985)
  • Rossini at Versailles (December 27, 1985)
  • From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 1986 hosted by Walter Cronkite (January 1, 1986)[8]
  • On the Razzle (January 3, 1986)
  • (January 14, 1986)
  • Heartbreak House (January 24, 1986)
  • Einstein on the Beach: The Changing Image of Opera (January 31, 1986)
  • The Cotton Club Remembered (February 7, 1986)
  • Irving Berlin's America (March 7, 1986)
  • Follies in Concert (March 14, 1986)
  • Cavalleria Rusticana (March 21, 1986)
  • Bernstein Conducts Haydn's Mass in Time of War (March 28, 1986)
  • Elektra (April 11, 1986)
  • Early Days (April 18, 1986)
  • Choreography by Jerome Robbins with the New York City Ballet (May 2, 1986)
  • Grown Ups (May 9, 1986)
  • Boxes: With the Sydney Dance Company (May 16, 1986)
  • Bernstein on Brahms: Reflections and Performance (May 23, 1986)

Season 15 (1986-87)

Season 17 (1988-89)

From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 1989 hosted by Walter Cronkite (January 1, 1989)[8]

Show Boat 1989 Paper Mill Playhouse production

Season 18 (1989-90)

Season 19 (1990-91)

Season 20 (1991-92)

Season 21 (1992-93)

Season 22 (1993-94)

Season 23 (1994-95)

Season 24 (1995-96)

Season 25 (1996-97)

Season 26 (1997-98)

Season 27 (1998-99)

Season 28 (1999-2000)

Season 29 (2000-01)

Season 30 (2001-02)

Season 31 (2002-03)

Season 32 (2003-04)

Season 33 (2004-05)

Season 34 (2005-06)

Show Boat 1989 Paper Mill Playhouse production

Season 36 (2007-08)

Season 37 (2008-09)

Show Boat 1989 Paper Mill Playhouse production

Season 38 (2009-10)

Show Boat 1989 Paper Mill Playhouse production

Season 39 (2010-11)

Season 40 (2011-12)

Season 41 (2012-13)

Season 42 (2013-14)

Season 43 (2014-15)

Show Boat 1989 Paper Mill Playhouse production

Season 44 (2015-16)

Season 45 (2016-17)

Season 46 (2017-18)

Season 47 (2018-19)


  1. ^ 73rd Annual Peabody Awards, May 2014.
  2. ^ 69th Annual Peabody Awards, May 2011.
  3. ^ 63rd Annual Peabody Awards, May 2004.
  4. ^ Comprehensive IMDb listing of awards
  5. ^ PBS: Great Performances: Opera on Film
  6. ^ "John Williams Composes Theme Music for Thirteen's Great Performances in Unique Collaboration" (Press release). WNET. March 16, 2009. Archived from the original on January 11, 2013. Retrieved April 15, 2017 – via Reuters.
  7. ^ "Television This Week: Of Special Interest". The New York Times. November 6, 1977. Retrieved 2016-09-23.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2009
  9. ^ Great Performances: From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2011
  10. ^ Great Performances: From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2011
  11. ^ Great Performances: From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2012
  12. ^ Great Performances: From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2013
  13. ^ Great Performances: From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2014
  14. ^ Great Performances: From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2015
  15. ^ Driving Miss Daisy: About the Play – Premiere date: July 17, 2015.
  16. ^ Great Performances: From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2016
  17. ^ Great Performances: From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2017
  18. ^ Foo Fighters – Landmarks Live in Concert: A Great Performances Special, November 10, 2017, retrieved November 27, 2017
  19. ^ "Great Performances Toasts 2018 with New Host Hugh Bonneville for Annual Broadcast Tradition From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration".
  20. ^ "'Great Performances' imports UK's 'Sound of Music'". Retrieved 2018-11-10.
  21. ^ "From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2019".

External links

Chaos and Creation at Abbey Road

Chaos and Creation at Abbey Road, recorded on 28 July 2005, was a live concert given by Paul McCartney at Abbey Road Studios, specifically Studio 2, where many of The Beatles' recordings were made.

Chaos and Creation at Abbey Road was meant as a promotion for McCartney's album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. As the audience was of close friends and selected fans, the concert was intimate in nature and was littered with monologues and song fragments. It was shown on BBC Two in the United Kingdom on 17 December 2005, and on PBS in the United States on 27 February 2006 as part of the performing arts series Great Performances.McCartney plays left-handed and right-handed guitars, drums, harmonium, double bass, Mellotron, and even wine glasses in a reworking of the Wings song "Band on the Run". He also reworks the Beatles' track "Lady Madonna", which he calls "Old Lady in New Clothes", with a much slower tempo and a swung melody line.

The bass McCartney uses on his performance of "Heartbreak Hotel" once belonged to Bill Black, Elvis Presley's bass player who died in 1965.

Hugh Bonneville

Hugh Richard Bonneville Williams (born 10 November 1963), known professionally as Hugh Bonneville, is an English actor. He is best known for playing Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham in the ITV historical drama series Downton Abbey. His performance on the show received him a Golden Globe Award and two consecutive Primetime Emmy Award nominations.

Jac Venza

Jac Venza is a public television producer who is directly responsible for most of the theatre and music programs that have been seen on PBS since its creation in 1970. From the early 1960s until his retirement in 2005, Venza brought such programs as NET Playhouse, Live from Lincoln Center, American Playhouse, American Masters, and Great Performances to millions of viewers. He won a Personal Peabody Award in 1998.He began his career on CBS in the 1950s, where he began to notice the scarcity of programming devoted to the fine arts on television. It was his dream to bring more of it to the home screen on a regular basis, but he did not receive a full opportunity to do so until the creation of National Educational Television, where it soon became possible, thanks largely to Venza, to see great dramatic literature regularly performed by some of the world's most renowned actors. A then-unknown Dustin Hoffman made his first major television appearance in a play - Ronald Ribman's The Journey of the Fifth Horse - on NET in 1966. NET Playhouse was perhaps the first television anthology to present commercial-free, full-length productions (rather than one-hour or ninety-minute adaptations) of theatrical classics such as Arthur Miller's adaptation of Ibsen's An Enemy of the People. When NET became PBS, Venza quickly launched Great Performances, which is still running today.

Upon his retirement from PBS, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting awarded Venza the Ralph Lowell medal. He held the record for the most Emmy nominations for an individual - 57 - until 2010.

Jennifer Dunning

Jennifer Dunning (born February 4, 1942) is a writer and critic for The New York Times on the subjects of dance and ballet. She is the author of the 1985 But First a School: The First Fifty Years of the School of American Ballet, the 1996 Alvin Ailey, a Life in Dance, and the 1997 Great Performances: A Celebration.

Dunning was born in New York City and studied dance. In 1977 she became the ballet critic for the New York Times. She retired from the paper in 2008.

King Lear (2008 film)

King Lear is a 2008 television film based on the William Shakespeare play of the same name, directed by Trevor Nunn. It was broadcast on More4 in the UK on Christmas Day, and shown on PBS' Great Performances in the United States in March 2009. The production was filmed mainly at Pinewood Studios in England.

It features the same cast and director as the 2007 RSC production, and started filming only a few days after the final performance at the New London Theatre, at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire. The film was released on DVD in the UK and then in the US on 21 April 2009. It was shown on Channel 4 on 26 December 2008, as well as being broadcast on PBS in 2009 and a number of other TV stations internationally, including NHK Japan.

Lar Lubovitch Dance Company

Lar Lubovitch Dance Company (founded in 1968) is a dance company based in New York City and founded by Lar Lubovitch in the late 1960s. They have performed at Carnegie Hall, and worldwide.In 2003-04, the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company celebrated its 35th anniversary with:

The world premiere of Artemis (2003) in May 2003 at Lincoln Center. Based on Greek mythology, the dance was created in honor of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

The nationwide TV broadcast of Othello (1997) by PBS in June 2003.

The world premiere of a new production of Othello in Norway in October 2003.

The world premiere of Pentimento (2004) in May 2004 as the featured dance during the company’s self-produced 35th anniversary season in New York City

A special anniversary tour including Great Britain and (in the US) the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival

Numerous re-stagings around the world of earlier works by the company.Other recent company work includes "Elemental Brubeck" (2005) (music by Dave Brubeck), "Love Stories" (2005) (to songs sung by Kurt Elling) and "Do You Be" (2005) (to music by Meredith Monk).

In 2002, the company created “…smile with my heart” (2002), a tribute to the legendary Broadway composer Richard Rodgers, and in 2001 the company presented three new dances at City Center:

The Wedding (2001) – the premiere of a major new production resulting from a re-imagination of Stravinsky’s Les Noces, originally choreographed by Lubovitch 25 years ago

My Funny Valentine (2001) – the world premiere of a tribute to the composer Richard Rodgers on the occasion of the centennial of his birth

Men’s Stories (2000) – the restaging of the company’s big hit from the prior year.The most impressive new work created by the company in the last few years was the acclaimed evening-length version of Othello (1997) – produced by the Lubovitch company in an unprecedented 3-way collaboration with American Ballet Theatre and San Francisco Ballet.

In New York, the company performs most frequently at City Center Theater (12 seasons), in addition to seasons at Avery Fisher Hall (twice), Carnegie Hall (twice), the Joyce Theater, the New York State Theater and other venues.

Based in New York, the company is internationally renowned, having toured extensively throughout America (virtually all 50 states) and the rest of the world (more than 30 countries). In 1995 the company decided to increase its focus on creating new dances (and other activities) in New York (declining all invitations to tour during the past nine years). During the 27 years of touring prior to 1995, the company had been seen in live performances by more than a million people. On television it has been seen by millions more. Nowadays the company limits its performances to New York City and television, except for the special 35th anniversary tour. In recognition of its work, the company has received many awards and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts and numerous foundations.

The company has appeared in the US on nationwide television as part of the PBS “Great Performances” series. The most recent broadcast, featuring Fandango (1989), was honored with an International Emmy Award. In Great Britain the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company was featured on television as part of an hour-long program produced by the BBC, in which the company performed Concerto Six Twenty-Two (1986) and North Star (1978). On June 18, 2003 the company’s co-production of Othello (as danced by San Francisco Ballet) was broadcast nationwide on “Great Performances” and watched by 900,000 people.

Mikhail Baryshnikov

Mikhail Nikolayevich Baryshnikov (Russian: Михаи́л Никола́евич Бары́шников, IPA: [mʲɪxɐˈil bɐrɨʂˈnʲɪkəf]; Latvian: Mihails Barišņikovs; born January 27, 1948), nicknamed "Misha" (Russian diminutive of the name "Mikhail"), is a Soviet-born Russian and American dancer, choreographer, and actor. He is often cited alongside Vaslav Nijinsky, Rudolf Nureyev and Vladimir Vasiliev as one of the greatest male ballet dancers in history.

Born in Riga, Latvian SSR, Baryshnikov had a promising start in the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad before defecting to Canada in 1974 for more opportunities in western dance. After freelancing with many companies, he joined the New York City Ballet as a principal dancer to learn George Balanchine's style of movement. He then danced with the American Ballet Theatre, where he later became artistic director. Baryshnikov has spearheaded many of his own artistic projects and has been associated in particular with promoting modern dance, premiering dozens of new works, including many of his own. His success as a dramatic actor on stage, cinema and television has helped him become probably the most widely recognized contemporary ballet dancer. Since his defection from the Soviet Union in 1974, Baryshnikov has never returned to Russia.In 1977, he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe nomination for his work as "Yuri Kopeikine" in the film The Turning Point. He also had a significant role in the last season of the television series Sex and the City and starred in the movie White Nights with Gregory Hines, Helen Mirren, and Isabella Rossellini.

My Christmas Special

The Andrea Bocelli & David Foster Christmas Special, is the PBS Great Performances Christmas special of Andrea Bocelli's first ever Holiday album, My Christmas, produced by multiple Grammy Award winner David Foster. Released on December 8, 2009, it is Bocelli's eighth DVD release.

The concert was filmed, September 15, 2009, at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, featuring Bocelli and Foster with additional guests including Natalie Cole, Mary J. Blige, Reba McEntire, Katherine Jenkins, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and The Muppets.It was nominated for outstanding music direction at the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards, in 2010.

Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography

This is a list of winners of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography. With the exception of 2013, the award is given at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony.Starting in 2019, separate awards are given for scripted programs and reality or variety programs.

Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program

The Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program was an annual award given to performers in a variety/music series or specials. The award has been retired; it was last presented in 2008.

Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Direction

The Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Direction is awarded to one television series or special each year.

In the following list, the first titles listed in gold are the winners; those not in gold are nominees, which are listed in alphabetical order. The years given are those in which the ceremonies took place.

Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Picture Editing for Variety Programming

The Primetime Emmy Award for Picture Editing for Variety Programming is awarded to one television series each year. From 2012 to 2015, the category was called Outstanding Picture Editing for Short-Form Segments and Variety Specials. Prior to 2012, short-form segments and variety specials competed independently of one another.

In the following list, the first titles listed in gold are the winners; those not in gold are nominees, which are listed in alphabetical order. The years given are those in which the ceremonies took place.

Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Special (Live)

The Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Special (Live) is awarded to one live television special each year. The award was presented as Outstanding Special Class Program until it was restructured for the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards.In the following list, the first titles listed in gold are the winners; those not in gold are nominees, which are listed in alphabetical order. The years given are those in which the ceremonies took place.

Santo Loquasto

Santo Richard Loquasto (born July 26, 1944) is an American production designer, scenic designer, and costume designer for stage, film, and dance. His work has included the ballet Don Quixote, the film Don't Drink the Water, Great Performances Dance in America: Fosse, and the television show TriBeCa.

The Last Mile (1992 film)

The Last Mile is a short (15 minute) comedy-drama filmed play written by Terrence McNally and directed by Paul Bogart for Public television's Great Performances 20th Anniversary Special (1992). The film aired on American Public television stations in October 1992. The play concerns the hopes and fears of a soprano making her Metropolitan Opera debut.

The Sound of Music Live (2015)

The Sound of Music Live is a television special that was originally broadcast by ITV on 20 December 2015. The special was an adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway musical The Sound of Music, starring Kara Tointon as Maria von Trapp, performed and televised live from 3 Mills Studios in London.

On 9 November 2018, the production was broadcast in the United States as part of PBS's performing arts anthology series Great Performances.

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