Led for the second time by German pianist and conductor Christoph Eschenbach, the world-renowned Vienna Philharmonic returns for its 14th open-air concert, with a program inspired by fairy tales and myths, in Austria’s Imperial Schönbrunn Palace Gardens. The Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2017 airs on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances, Friday, August 18 at 9 p.m. on PBS. (Check local listings.)
Fairy tales, myths, legends and sagas are closely entwined with many composers and compositions. They have served as inspiration, models and sources for many musical works, several of which have been selected for this concert. Some are new and some are old; some are German, Bohemian, and Russian; some are based on literary models and one is a composer’s opinion about a myth.
The concert soloist is renowned soprano Renée Fleming who performs two arias from operas by Antonin Dvořák: the famous ‘Song to the Moon’ of the water nymph Rusalka and the aria of the sorceress Armida from the operas of those names, as well as three songs by Sergei Rachmaninoff: “Twilight,” “Sing not to me, beautiful maiden” and “Spring Waters.”
Eschenbach, who conducted the Summer Night Concert in 2014, is the longtime collaborator of artists such as Lang Lang, Julia Fischer and, indeed, Renée Fleming, and has been closely connected to the Vienna Philharmonic for many years.
Schönbrunn Palace was never, of course, an actual fairy tale location, but rather the summer residence of the Hapsburg Emperors, and also between 1805 and 1809, the residence of the French Emperor Napoleon. Nevertheless, for many visitors, the palace and its surrounding park have always represented a supposed fairytale world, a modern–day legend with a worldwide presence.
This free outdoor concert, recorded in May, allows the distinguished orchestra to make classical music accessible to establish a following beyond its usual core audience. The annual event is produced by the ORF, and transmitted live or delayed in more than 80 countries worldwide. For the first time, the stage is positioned in front of the Schönbrunn Palace, which will serve as a magnificent backdrop to the concert.
In past years, the concert has been conducted by Bobby McFerrin (2004), Zubin Mehta (2005 and 2015), Plácido Domingo (2006), Valery Gergiev (2007 & 2011), Georges Prêtre (2008), Daniel Barenboim (in 2009 when Great Performances first began airing the concerts on PBS), Franz Welser-Möst (2010), Gustavo Dudamel (2012), Lorin Maazel (2013), Christoph Eschenbach(2014) and Semyon Bychkov (2016).
The full musical program is as follows:
Zha Stihlou Gazelou (At dawn, as I merrily pursued a slender gazelle) from “Armida”
“Rusalka” Song to the Moon
Rose Adagio, “Pas d’action” from “The Sleeping Beauty”
Rachmaninoff songs (with Renée Fleming)
Sing not to me, beautiful maiden
Prelude to “Hansel and Gretel”
Hedwig’s Theme from “Harry Potter”
Devil’s Dance, Berceuse + Finale from “The Firebird”
Wiener Blut (Viennese Spirit)
The 2017 Summer Night Concert will be released on CD, DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital platforms by Sony Classical on August 11.
Great Performances is produced by THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. Throughout its more than 40 year history on public television, Great Performances has provided viewers across the country with an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming. The series has been the home to the greatest artists in the areas of drama, dance, musical theater, classical and popular music, providing many with their very first television exposure.
Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2017 is a production of ORF in collaboration with Wiener Philharmoniker in association with THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET.
Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2017 is directed for television by Henning Kasten. Executive producer: Karin Veitl.
For Great Performances, John Walker and Richard R. Schilling are producers; Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.
Great Performances is funded by The Joseph & Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, Irene Diamond Fund, The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, The Agnes Varis Trust, The Starr Foundation, The Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, Ellen and James S. Marcus, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, The Abra Prentice Foundation, the Thea Petschek Iervolino Foundation, and PBS. Exclusive corporate support for the concert is provided by Rolex.
Visit Great Performances Online at www.pbs.org/gperf for additional information about this and other programs.
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