Gioacchino Antonio Rossini

William Tell

Gioacchino Rossini's "William Tell"
Wichita Grand Opera
February 22, 2014

Executive Producer: Parvan Bakardiev
Production Concept and Design: Margaret Ann Pent
Conductor: Nayden Todorov
Director: Chuck Hudson

CAST:
WILLIAM TELL - Lucas Meachem
HEDWIG - Suzanne Hendrix
JEMMY - Alyssa Toepfer
MATILDA - Zvetelina Vassileva
ARNOLD - Michael Spyres
MELCTHAL - William Powers
GESLER - Diego Baner
WALTER FURST - Nicholas Masters
RUODI - Chris Trapani
LEUTHOLD - Michael Nansel
RUDOLPHE - Patrick Greene

William Tell was Rossini's longest opera—and his last. Maybe it was the writing of so long a work (its original performance took over six hours) that discouraged him from writing more. At any rate, though William Tell was a great critical success, he did not write another opera although he lived almost forty years more. Rossini himself authorized a version that was cut from five to three acts, and for a while it was even customary, in Paris, to give Act II alone, with another opera to fill out the bill. The story goes that one time the director of the Орerа told the composer that Act II of William Tell was on the bill for that night. "What?" exclaimed the bitter Rossini. "Аll of it?"
 

For many years it was customary to say that The Barber of Seville and William Tell were the only Rossini operas which had survived the composer many years in the repertoires of the great opera houses. Whether because of its length or because of the extremely demanding tenor role of Arnold, Tell can no longer be called "standard" repertoire, while other Rossini operas, like La cenerentola and The Italian in Algiers, are being revived with greater frequency. The fact is that The Barber has by far the best libretto of the lot. The William Tell story is serviceable enough, but little better than that.

In several countries, during the politically sensitive 1830’s, it was regarded as dangerously revolutionary. Accordingly, the 
libretto was revised, and in Milan the opera was called Guglielmo Vallace (that is, the Scottish Wallace),in Rome Rodolfo di Sterlinga, in London and Berlin Andreas Hofer, and in St Petersburg Karl Smily (Charles the Bold). It seems odd that the censors should have been more frightened of the name of an almost completely mythical revolutionary than of some real ones. But many things that censor do seem odd.

William Tell, German Wilhelm Tell, Swiss legendary hero who symbolized the struggle for political and individual freedom.


The historical existence of Tell is disputed. According to popular legend, he was a peasant from Bürglen in the canton of Uri in the 13th and early 14th centuries who defied Austrian authority, was forced to shoot an apple from his son’s head, was arrested for threatening the governor’s life, saved the same governor’s life en route to prison, escaped, and ultimately killed the governor in an ambush. These events supposedly helped spur the people to rise up against Austrian rule.
 

The classic form of the legend appears in the Chronicon Helveticum (1734–36), by Gilg Tschudi, which gives November 1307 as the date of Tell’s deeds and New Year 1308 as the date of Switzerland’s liberation. There is no evidence, however, for the existence of Tell; but the story of the marksman’s test is widely distributed in folklore. In the early Romantic era of nationalist revolutions, the Tell legend attained worldwide renown through the stirring play Wilhelm Tell (1804) by the German dramatist Friedrich von Schiller.

Roles

WILLIAM TELL
(Guillaume Tell)


Opera in four acts by Gioacchino Antonio Rossini with libretto in French by Victor Joseph Etienne de Jouy and Hippolyte Louis Florent Bis (with considerable help from the composer and Armand Marrast), based on the play of the same name by Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

William Tell, a Swiss patriot
Hedwige, his wife
Jemmy, their son
Gessler, Austrian Governor of Schwitz and Uri
Mathilde, his daughter
Arnold, a Swiss patriot
Melcthal, his father
Walter Furst, another Swiss patriot
Rudolph, captain in Gessler's guard
Leuthold, a shepherd


 

Time: 14th century
Place: Switzerland
First performance at Paris, August 3, 1829

Characters

Guillaume Tell:

 

Bass. He is determined to free his country of Austrian domination. He saves a shepherd who has killed an Austrian soldier, and is caught by the tyrannical governor Gessler. To free himself, he has to shoot at an apple placed on his son’s head: this he does successfully, but then he admits his plan to shoot Gessler. He is arrested. His son helps him to escape and defeat the Austrians. Created (1829) by Henri-Bernard Dabadie.

Bryan Hymel sings "Asile héréditaire" from Rossini's "Guillaume Tell"

Jemmy Tell:

 

Soprano. Travesti role. Son of Guillaume (William) Tell. His father has to shoot at an apple perched on Jemmy's head. After Guillaume has been captured by Austrian troops, Jemmy helps him to fight and free Switzerland from Austrian domination. Created (1829) by Louise-Zulme Dabadie.

Excerpt from the 3rd act of Gioachino Rossini's GUILLAUME TELL with Michael Volle (Guillaume Tell), Evgeniya Sotnikova (Jemmy), Günther Groissböck (Gesler)

Gessler:

 

Bass. Tyrannical Austrian Governor of the Swiss cantons of Schwitz and Uri. Brother of Princess Mathilde, with whom the Swiss Arnold is in love. After Tell saves a shepherd fleeing from Austrian troops, Gessler challenges Tell to save his life by shooting at an apple perched on the head of his own son. Created (1829) by Alexandre Prévot.

Christian Van Horn - William Tell - Gessler - Netherlands Opera

Princess Mathilde:

 

Soprano. Princess of the House of Habsburg, sister of Gessler, the detested governor. She is loved by the Swiss Arnold and remains loyal to him even when he plans to kill her brother. Created (1829) by Laure Cinti—Damoreau.

Guillaume Tell: "Sombre forêt" (Marina Rebeka)

Arnold:

 

Tenor. Son of Melcthal. He loves the Princess Mathilde, sister of the Austrian governor. Created (1829) by Adolphe Nourrit.

Trio: ‘Quand l'Helvétie est un champ de supplices’

Guillaume Tell (baritone) : Gabriel Bacquier
Arnold, prétendant de Mathilde (tenor): Nicolai Gedda
Walter Furst (bass): Kolos Kovacs

Melcthal:

 

Bass. Patriarch and leader of the Swiss, father of Arnold. He is taken as a hostage and killed by the Austrian troops. His son swears revenge. Created (1829) by Mons. Bonel.

Leuthold:

 

Bass. A shepherd who kills an Austrian soldier who assaulted his daughter. He is saved from capture by Tell, who rows him across the rapids. Created (1829) by Ferdinand Prévot.

                                        Synopsis

 

OVERTURE
 

The overture to William Tell is the best-known piece of orchestral music ever to come out of an opera, rivaled, perhaps, only by the Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana. It has survived in the affections of the public - and perhaps even grown in those affections—the satirical use of it in Disney's animated cartoons and as the theme of the Lone Ranger. It begins, boldly, with a quintet for five solo cellos; a soft roll on the kettledrums introduces one of Rossini's pet storms, including realistic raindrops spattered from the piccolo; then comes a pastoral section based on a Swiss alphorn melody played on the French horn; and eventually, after a brilliant fanfare of trumpets, comes the familiar galop, which retains its excitement when well played despite the many humorous associations, polite and impolite, that have been attached to it.

Gioachino Rossini - Guillaume Tell,
Ouverture
Orchestra del Teatro La Fenice
Direttore Georges Prêtre

ACT I
 

The story concerns the legendary activities of a legendary fourteenth-century Swiss patriot. The country is under the heel of the Austrian Governor, Gessler, who has shown himself to be a tyrant. High up in the Alps, in Tell's native village, the Swiss are celebrating a traditional festival. The old shepherd Melcthal is to give his blessing to three couples who wish to be married. Two serious voices are slightly out of tune with the happy occasion. One is that of Tell, who bemoans the fate of his country, the other, that of Arnold, son of Melcthal, who is involved in a dangerous love affair.
 

































There is a long duet in winch Tell urges Arnold to fight for his country, but Arnold at first hesitates as his beloved is Mathilde, daughter of Gessler. Occasionally there is beard the sound of hunting horns—an indication that Gessler's men are in the neighborhood, hunting.
 

Now the festivities are resumed. There is first a ballet, and in the ensuing games Tell's young son Jemmy distinguishes himself by being a good shot, just as his father is. The celebration is interrupted by Leuthold, a Swiss fugitive from Gessler's men, running in. Tell saves him by spiriting him away on a boat despite great danger on the lake.
 

When Gessler’s men, headed by Rudolph, arrive, no one will tell them who aided in the escape, and in revenge they seize upon old Melcthal and drag him off.

Guillaume Tell - 1995 (act 1-2)
Direttore Gianluigi Gelmetti
Regia, scene e costumi Pier Luigi Pizzi
Coreografie Heinz Spoerli
Interpreti
Guillaume Tell Michele Pertusi Arnold Melcthal Gregory Kunde Walter Furst Ildebrando DíArcangelo Melcthal Frode Olsen Jemmy Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz Gesler Riccardo Ferrari Rodolphe Jeffrey Francis Roudi, Pêcheur Paul Austin Kelly Leuthold Eldar Aliev Mathilde Daniela Dessì Hedwige Monica Bacelli Un Chasseur Mauro Utzeri 
Étoiles nei Balli
Alessandra Ferri, José Manuel Carreño
Ballet Nacional de Cuba
Ballerino solista Rafael Rivero
Coro da Camera di Praga
Maestro del Coro Lubomír Mátl
Coro della Radio Polacca di Cracovia
Maestro del Coro Orawska Malgorzata
Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart

ACT II
 

The second act begins with a recitative and the brilliant coloratura aria Sombre foret sung by Mathilde, daughter of the Austrian tyrant Gessler, in which she admits her love for Arnold. He meets her in the Alpine clearing in a forest where she waits, and a fine love duet ensues. Mathilde leaves hastily when she hears the approach of William Tell and Walter Furst. These men have come to persuade Arnold to join them in an uprising against Gessler, but they are suspicious of him because of his meeting with Mathilde. Presently, however, they give him some bad news: Gessler has had Arnold's old father, the shepherd Melcthal, executed. Now there is no longer any hesitation on Arnold's part, and at the close of the fine trio thе three men swear to deliver their country from its oppression.
 

One by one, trusted groups of men arrive from the Swiss cantons of Unterwalden, Schwitz, and Uri. Tell delivers a dramatic address, and a solemn patriotic oath is taken by all present as the act ends.

ACT III
 

In the market place of the village of Altdorf, the tyrant Gessler has put up the Austrian coat-of-arms and bis own hat for every Swiss to bow before. William Tell refuses to bow, and he and his son are at once arrested. Gessler says that Tell must demonstrate bis vaunted skill with bow and arrow by shooting an apple off his son's head, and when Tell refuses, Gessler orders the boy to be executed. Now Tell has no choice. The boy, Jemmy, fearlessly expresses complete confidence in Tell's skill, and cheers go up as the arrow splits the apple in two.
 

But a second arrow falls from Tell’s coat; and when Gessler demands to know what that is for, the patriot tells him it would have been for Gessler's own heart if the boy had been hurt. Greatly incensed, Gessler orders the arrest of Tell, but before our hero is dragged off, he manages to send his wife a message through his son. Tell Hedwige, says William, that the lighting of mountain beacons will be the signal for the uprising of the cantons. Gessler's own daughter, Mathilda flees from the spot with little Jemmy, to deliver the message.

Guillaume Tell - 1995 (act 3-4)
Direttore Gianluigi Gelmetti
Regia, scene e costumi Pier Luigi Pizzi
Coreografie Heinz Spoerli
Interpreti
Guillaume Tell Michele Pertusi Arnold Melcthal Gregory Kunde Walter Furst Ildebrando DíArcangelo Melcthal Frode Olsen Jemmy Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz Gesler Riccardo Ferrari Rodolphe Jeffrey Francis Roudi, Pêcheur Paul Austin Kelly Leuthold Eldar Aliev Mathilde Daniela Dessì Hedwige Monica Bacelli Un Chasseur Mauro Utzeri 
Étoiles nei Balli
Alessandra Ferri, José Manuel Carreño
Ballet Nacional de Cuba
Ballerino solista Rafael Rivero
Coro da Camera di Praga
Maestro del Coro Lubomír Mátl
Coro della Radio Polacca di Cracovia
Maestro del Coro Orawska Malgorzata
Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart

ACT IV
 

Scene 1 is largely taken up by an aria sung by Arnold. He has returned home, and his fathers death at the bands of Gesslec contiimes to haunt him. A group of Swiss patriots reports to him the arrest of William Tell, and, finally roused to action, he leads die men off to rescue Шек leader.
 

Scene 2 takes place on a rocky spot off the Lake of the Four Cantons and near Tell’s own home. Jemmy, accompanied by Mathilde, rushes in to bis mother, Hedwige. The little boy is hopeful that Tell will escape despite the storm that is brewing when suddenly he remembers his father's message. He himself sets fire to his father's house as a signal for the cantons to rise. As the stonn develops, they all pray for Tell's deliverance, and suddenly the hero appears, jumping from a boat. Close behind him come bis pursuers, including Gessler.
 

But Тell seizes bis bow and arrow from Jemmy, who has rescued them from the burning house. Tell takes careful aim and, with a cry, Gessler tumbles headlong into the lake. At that moment a party of Swiss patriots, led by young Arnold, comes in to announce the taking of Gessler's headquarters in Altdorf. The opera closes with rejoicing on the part of every surviving Swiss member of the dramatis personae.