The Vienna Philharmonic’s Summer Night Concert 2018 at Schönbrunn was conducted on Thursday 31 May by Valery Gergiev. The evening’s soloist was soprano Anna Netrebko. Once again this year, the concert – this “gift of the Vienna Philharmonic to all music lovers” – was recorded by Sony Classical. The annual open-air concerts has been held for the past ten years, having been introduced as successors to the “Concerts for Europe” staged between 2004 and 2007. The illustrious conductors who have directed the Summer Night Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic include Georges Prêtre, Daniel Barenboim, Franz Welser-Möst, Gustavo Dudamel, Lorin Maazel, Christoph Eschenbach, Zubin Mehta and Semyon Bychkov.


Again this year, the Summer Night Concert was given in the Baroque parkland of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Schönbrunn Palace. Free admission allowed all Viennese citizens and the city’s guests the opportunity to experience this extraordinary musical event against the enchanting backdrop of the Palace and its grounds. Each year, a concert audience of some 100,000 gathers in the heart of the Schönbrunn Palace park. In addition, millions of viewers and listeners in more than 80 countries are able to follow the concert on the internet, radio and television.


The 2018 Summer Night Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic bears the title “An Italian Night” and featured selected works from the operatic and ballet repertoire of Italian and Russian composers. Conductor Valery Gergiev is an acknowledged connoisseur and master of this music. Gergiev was appointed Artistic Director of the Kirov Opera in Leningrad, now Saint Petersburg, in 1988. Since 1996 he has been in overall charge of the opera house, known once more since 1992 under its original name, the Mariinsky Theatre. From 2007 to 2015 he directed the London Symphony Orchestra; since 2015 Valery Gergiev has been Principal Conductor of the Munich Philharmonic. He has been a regular partner of Anna Netrebko for almost two and a half decades: the soprano launched her exceptional singing career at the Mariinsky Theatre under Gergiev in 1994 and is now – between Vienna and New York, London and Milan, Salzburg and Saint Petersburg – one of the most highly sought-after singers in the world.


The Vienna Philharmonic’s “Italian Night” takes us from the days of  bel canto by way of Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini to the phenomenon of verismo with its two leading proponents Pietro Mascagni and Ruggero Leoncavallo. “Woe to us, the bel canto of our fatherland is lost,” lamented Gioacchino Rossini in 1858, almost three decades after completing his final opera, William Tell. All the same, Rossini could not guess how closely the Italian composers of a century or more ago – in a time of shifting aesthetic values – would model themselves on the supposedly outdated form of bel canto. That is evident notably in the interludes of the operas Cavalleria rusticana and Manon Lescaut, assigned to the “intermezzo sinfonico” genre. Puccini himself planned his Intermezzo in Manon Lescaut as the heart of a sequence that portrayed what must be the longest dying scene in the entire history of opera. How far the tradition of bel canto, of “beautiful singing”, continued to pervade opera is admirably demonstrated by Giacomo Puccini in his programmatic aria “Vissi d’arte” from Tosca: “I lived for art,” declares the opera singer Floria Tosca. Likewise, in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, Nedda the comic player celebrates the free flight of the birds, who soar aloft at will and defy all danger: “Stridono lassù”.


The programm of this year’s Summer Night Concert is rounded off with Italian-themed Russian ballet music: the Neapolitan Dance from Swan Lake by Peter Tchaikovsky and an excerpt from Sergey Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.


1. Opening Credits

2. Rossini - Guillaume Tell: Overture: Allegro vivace (Finale)

3. Verdi - La forza del destino: Overture

4. Cilea - Adriana Lecouvreur, Act I: Io son l'umile ancella

5. Mascagni - Cavalleria rusticana: Intermezzo

6. Verdi - Aida: Triumphal March

7. Tchaikovsky - Swan Lake, Op. 20, Act III, No. 22: Neapolitan Dance

8. Prokofiev - Romeo and Juliet Suite No. 2, Op. 64ter: 1. Montagues and Capulets

9. Puccini - Tosca, Act II: Vissi d'arte, vissi d'amore

10. Puccini - Manon Lescaut: Intermezzo

11. Leoncavallo - Pagliacci, Act I: Stridono lassù


12. Puccini - Gianni Schicchi: Aria O mio babbino caro

13. Fucik: Florentiner Marsch, Op. 214

14. Johann Strauss Jr: Wiener Blut. Walzer, Op. 354

15. Closing Credits


Timing approx.

70 mins