German TV's big New Year's Eve event is the annual concert on the ZDF channel. For many years it was the preserve of the Berlin Philharmonic. But their escalating pay demands led to the baton being passed this year to the less financially-demanding Staatskapelle Dresden.
The change has not exactly gone smoothly. First, when Dresden's then-music director Fabio Luisi discovered ZDF wanted future (from 2012) director Christian Thielemann to conduct the concert, he resigned in a fit of pique.
Then a few weeks ago Thomas Hampson dropped out, unable to fit initial rehearsals into his schedule. That left Renee Fleming, pencilled in to sing extracts from Die lustige Witwe with Hampson's replacement Christopher Maltman. But the Beautiful Voice has been trapped all week in the New York snow, leaving her unable to fly to Germany for rehearsals.
Fortunately, Anna Netrebko has agreed to step in to the final rehearsal at the last minute - together with bonus hawtness in the form of hubby Erwin Schrott.
The plan is that Netrebko and Schrott will sing at the dress rehearsal today, 30 December. This show will be filmed and extracts will be shown during the live broadcast tomorrow, which will feature Fleming and Maltman as planned. Will the two divas be held in separate cages until filming is over? Let's just say I can't find one single photo of them together.
The arrangement allows busy Netrebko and Schrott to fit in their appearance as the 'surprise' guests in the Vienna Staatsoper's Die Fledermaus, broadcast live on New Year's Eve.
The last minute switch will undoubtedly help ZDF in the ratings war against the ARD network. They're pitching in to the crowded New Year's Eve market for the first time just a few minutes apart in a crazy schedule clash. ARD are going with the tried-and-tested Berliner Philharmoniker and the more experimental choice of Gustavo Dudamel (no, not Herr Rattle as has been reported elsewhere).
Who will win?
Not the German licence payer, who's financing both, but will only be able to watch one.