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‘Rheingold’ highlights BSO’s 2017 Tanglewood season

Andris Nelsons (pictured conducting the BSO and Kristine Opolais in August) will participate in 11 performances at Tanglewood in 2017.Hilary Scott

An ambitious concert performance of Wagner’s “Das Rheingold,” a unique avian collaboration with Mass Audubon, and a rare sighting of BSO music director Andris Nelsons playing the trumpet are among the highlights of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s 2017 Tanglewood season, which will begin June 18 and conclude with the customary performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 on Aug. 29.

Nelsons has been a champion of opera at Tanglewood since his tenure with the orchestra began, and he views “Rheingold” as a particularly strong choice for this moment. The opera, full of intrigues over a magic ring, “can remind us and many people that we should look and think of the values of life,” Nelsons said Wednesday at Symphony Hall. “In the world, things have gone a little crazy, a little wrong, I would say.” Running after money and fame, he explained, will only end badly, as in “‘Götterdämmerung,’ where everything collapses. . . . We need to take care that we stay human and we cherish the values that are important in life.”


Performed on July 15, “Rheingold” will feature 14 soloists, including bass-baritone Thomas J. Mayer as Wotan and tenor Kim Begley as Loge.

All told, Nelsons will participate in 11 performances, including Mahler’s second and fourth symphonies and an opera gala with soprano Kristine Opolais (his wife) and baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Nelsons will also conduct two programs with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra and the Boston Pops’ annual Film Night, which he will share with Boston Pops laureate conductor John Williams.

“Behind the Iron Curtain, his movies weren’t accessible,” the Latvia-born Nelsons said of Williams’s Hollywood scores. “But in the ’90s we saw “Indiana Jones” and “Star Wars,” and the tunes!” He sang a snippet in a melodious bass voice. “I usually don’t get to conduct the Pops, so it’s exciting for me.”


Nelsons added that he was looking forward to bringing his young daughter to Tanglewood for the first time, and playing the trumpet (his original instrument) in a July “Brass Extravaganza” concert with BSO players, Tanglewood Music Center fellows, and Swedish trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger.

This summer’s BSO guest conductors include Charles Dutoit, Gustavo Gimeno, Bramwell Tovey, Christoph von Dohnányi, and BSO assistant conductor Ken-David Masur. Israeli conductor Lahav Shani, 27, makes his Tanglewood debut with a program including Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with soloist Joshua Bell. BSO artistic partner Thomas Adès also appears at Tanglewood for the first time, leading the BSO in Britten’s “Sinfonia da Requiem” and Beethoven’s “Emperor” concerto with Emanuel Ax, and the TMC orchestra in his own “Polaris” and Sibelius’s Symphony No. 7.

Tanglewood will introduce “Summer Sundays,” new extramusical programming before and after BSO weekend performances. In collaboration with Mass Audubon, “Tanglewood Takes Flight” pairs bird walks at the Tanglewood campus and Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary with performances of Messiaen’s “Catalogue of the Birds” by Pierre-Laurent Aimard and TMC piano fellows. The Ax-curated “Schubert’s Summer Journey” explores the composer’s chamber music and features guests including Yo-Yo Ma, the Emerson Quartet, Jamie Barton, and Adès.

Guests at Ozawa Hall will include Apollo’s Fire, the Handel and Haydn Society, pianist Daniil Trifonov, and the Mark Morris Dance Group performing a tribute to Lou Harrison. Garrick Ohlsson, Tanglewood’s 2017 Koussevitzky Artist, will be featured in five performances. The yearly Festival of Contemporary Music is curated by TMC alumni Nadia Sirota, Jacob Greenberg, and Kathryn Bates, who will participate in performances. The Boston Pops with Keith Lockhart will present two live film scores and a Sondheim evening, and Tanglewood on Parade will bring all the ensembles together on Aug. 1.


“At Tanglewood, the Boston Symphony Orchestra feels like a youth orchestra. Of course it’s the same orchestra, but there’s this energy . . . this joy,” said Nelsons. “It’s all about enjoying and sharing the music, and inviting everyone in.”

Tickets will go on sale on Jan. 29. Details are online at www.tangle

Zoë Madonna can be reached at zoe.madonna@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @knitandlisten. Madonna’s work is supported by the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.