Wednesday, 22 April 2009

262. Giochino Rossini - Guillaume Tell (1829)


Title: Guillaume Tell
Performers: Monserrat Caballé, Nicolai Gedda, Mady Mesplé, Gabriel Bacquier
Conductor: Lamberto Gardelli
Year: 1972
Length: 4 hours


It is hard to argue with the idea that this is Rossini's operatic masterpiece. If for nothing else he has to be commended for effort, four hours of music is very long for non Wagnerian standards. Surprisingly for Rossini these four hours sound much less recycled than in his previous operas, he actually put some effort into this one.

Now, this is an opera that you are probably better not watching, not only is it very long but the plot is pretty dull... it is set in Switzerland after all. Too much time is lost in the middle of the play, with ballets and the romantic side-plot, only to have it finish in a confused and too fast way. I have only watched the Italian version of the opera, and this recording is of the original French version, which actually sounds better. One of the few occasions when it is a better experience to listen to the opera without being particularly aware of what is happening.

So this is really a CD set you should get, as a piece of music it is pretty exciting, never more than in the "Lone Ranger" overture, but often exciting in less obvious and more rewarding passages which are seldom heard. So it is the best music that Rossini composed for an opera, pity that as a piece of theatre it is so dull.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

Other, political, concerns have contributed to the varying fortunes of the work. In Italy, because the work glorified a revolutionary figure against authority, the opera encountered difficulties with the Italian censors, and the number of productions in Italy was limited. The Teatro San Carlo produced the opera in 1833, but then did not give another production for around 50 years. The first Venice production, at the Teatro La Fenice, was not until 1856. By contrast, in Vienna, in spite of censorship issues there, the Vienna Court Opera gave 422 performances over the years 1830-1907.

Overture in it's most famous incarnation:

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