Few evenings are more romantic than those spent savoring food, wine, beautiful music and the woodland ambiance of Wolf Trap. For Friday's opening concert of this season's NSO @ Wolf Trap Festival, conductor Emil de Cou completes the sensory adventure with classical works based on the tale of Romeo and Juliet. To enhance the story everyone knows, he has chosen representative symphonic works by Tchaikovsky, Bernstein and Prokofiev along with excerpts from Gounod's opera, "Romeo et Juliette," sung by members of the Wolf Trap Opera Co.

If you go Emil de Cou, NSO @ Wolf Trap Festival conductor, opens NSO's sixth consecutive summer at Wolf Trap with music inspired by Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," with vocals by members of the Wolf Trap Opera Company at 8:15 p.m. July 16. Additional shows: An Evening with Idina Menzel and Marvin Hamlisch -- 8:15 p.m. July 17 Around the World with Joshua Bell and the NSO -- 8:15 p.m. July 22 A Rodgers and Hammerstein Celebration -- 8:15 p.m. July 23 Distant Worlds: Music from "Final Fantasy" --Ê8:30 p.m. July 30 The Planets in HD -- 8:30 p.m. July 31 The Music of James Bond -- 8:15 p.m. Aug. 5 Warner Bros. Presents "Bugs Bunny At the Symphony" -- 8:30 p.m. Aug. 6-7 Where: Filene Center When: $32 to $52 in-house, $20 lawn; 877-965-3872; wolftrap.org Info: 703-255-1868

This first of eight spectacular shows de Cou has spent the past year planning, it is followed Saturday by NSO Principal Pops Conductor Marvin Hamlisch and Idina Menzel performing music from Broadway musicals, several in which she starred, others he wrote. Next weekend, de Cou returns to the podium for two concerts, the first a musical tour with violinist Joshua Bell, the second a Rodgers and Hammerstein celebration. "This will be the second time I've worked with Josh," de Cou said. "It's a treat to stand next to him on stage because he has such an expressive personality and often plays with his eyes closed. For this occasion, he chose Bruch's 'Scottish Fantasy,' a true tour de force filled with Scottish idioms and folk songs.

"The program opens with Gershwin's Cuban Overture which we'll do like they do in Havana with the percussion players front and center instead of in a back corner. The Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 is an old warhorse everyone knows and loves because they've heard it in about 30 cartoons. We close with Respighi's Roman Festivals. It's like a DeMille film set to music and covers so much that the composer believed he had written everything he ever wanted to write, right down to the sound of lions attacking in the Colosseum."

The Rodgers and Hammerstein evening is a potpourri of songs spanning six decades during which the composer and lyricist worked together or in partnership with others. Their music is so popular and representative of America during peace and war that de Cou regards it as folk music that never sounds vintage. Several weeks ago, the Boston Pops R&H program he conducted lured all ages, proof that their music remains evergreen. For this event, soloists Lisa Vroman, Gary Mauer and William Michals and the Washington Chorus will provide the vocals.

The following week, in keeping with his lifelong interest in astronomy, de Cou will conduct Holst's "The Planets" while eye-popping HD images from Chicago's Adler Planetarium are projected on huge screens in synchronization with the music. Growing up in Orange County, Calif., surrounded by employees of the nearby aerospace industry, de Cou fell in love with rocketry. For the past four years, he has worked with NASA and has been invited to share his musical collaboration with space at the U.N. European Conference on Space Technology in Istanbul, Turkey, later this summer.

Another guaranteed crowd-pleaser is "Distant Worlds": music from "Final Fantasy," accompanied by cutting-edge graphics on giant screens. Conductor/composer Arnie Roth, a Grammy Award winner, once again leads.

The popularity of film music inspired de Cou to schedule "Diamonds Are Forever," a new program conducted by Carl Davis featuring the music from James Bond movies, beginning with "Dr. No" in 1962 and ending with "Casino Royale" of 2006. Mary Carewe will sing the title songs from "Goldfinger" and "Diamonds are Forever" made famous by Dame Shirley Bassey, along with other numbers from the series that became international hits.

The NSO @ Wolf Trap Festival concludes with conductor George Daugherty's beloved concoction, "Bugs Bunny At the Symphony." This 20th anniversary concert features the Wascally Wabbit, Elmer Fudd, Tweety Pie and the entire Looney Toon family in old favorites. For an unexpected treat, they are joined in this East Coast premiere by Tom and Jerry, Scooby Doo, the Flintstones and others never before seen cavorting in this context.

"The Bugs Bunny franchise has been seen all over the world and wherever it plays, grandparents, parents and children come out in droves," de Cou said. "It's a great way to enjoy these cartoons on the huge screen and to introduce pop standards from the 1940s and '50s to a new generation."