William Tell-It's More Than An Overture !

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THEHORN
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William Tell-It's More Than An Overture !

Post by THEHORN » Wed Nov 10, 2010 5:57 pm

I recently borrowed the Muti/La Scala DVD of Rossini's Guillaume Tell,or Guglielmo Tell in this Italian language production ,from about 20 years ago from my library, and it shows that this is perhaps the composer's greatest work.
I'd known it from the EMI/Gardelli recording in the original French and the Philips CD,which I believe is identical to the DVD,and I'm glad I finally got to see a production of this monumental opera.
The cast includes that sadly underappreciated baritone Giorgio Zancanaro, Cheryl Studer as Matilde and Chris Merritt as the Swiss patriot Arnoldo or Arnold among others.
The set consists basically of large panels of picturesque Swiss mountain scenery,mountains,pastures and rivers etc,which sometimes move to show river rapids and a flood etc, and somehow,it works. At one point toward the end, you see Muti conducting the orchestra on stage!
Rossini's music has an almost Wagnerian grandeur at times,but is very difficult to sing ,not to mention its 4 hour length. Many of the relatively rare stagings of this ambitious and demanding work have been heavily cut,but true to form,Muti avoids them here and gives us the whole banana.
Zancanaro sings with great nobility and conveys Tell's courage and determination eloquently, and Studer and Merritt are splendid,if somewhat beefy looking,and Muti is in his element.
Tell has been performed in concert by Eve Queler and OONY within the past 30 years or so ,but the Met has not done it for probably over a century, with some legendarysingers but probably cut.
I think it's time for a Met production,and I think it could do the opera justice,although it will be very hard to get Muti back to conduct it with his busy schedule in Chicago and elsewhere.



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Re: William Tell-It's More Than An Overture !

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Nov 10, 2010 6:28 pm

I enjoy the Opera and have a couple of different recordings, but, it's incredibly long...
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josé echenique
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Re: William Tell-It's More Than An Overture !

Post by josé echenique » Wed Nov 10, 2010 7:30 pm

Guillaume Tell is indeed Rossini´s greatest opera and a masterpiece of paramount importance.
Rossini didn´t really feel at home in the world of Meyerbeer´s Grand Opéra, but he did probe that he could compose one. It is a long opera because all grand opéras were long: Les Huguenots, Don Carlos, Tannhäuser in it´s 1861 Paris edition, etc. They usually had 4 or 5 ballets to showcase the Paris Opera ballet corps, and that put an enormous burden on composers not really made for composing ballets (like Verdi who had a difficult time with the Trouvére ballets). And it is to Rossini´s credit that all the ballets in Tell are extremely good music.
And Guillaume Tell is a noble work, where good, honest folk fight for their ideals and seek independence with peace. The libretto by Etienne de Jouy and Hippolyte Florent Bis is a very fine one. I feel that Guillaume Tell like Don Carlos and Donizetti´s La Favorite are French operas and should always be given in French. In their original languages they are far more successful than in the often terrible Italian translations (La Favorite the worst offended).

I´m always very moved by the last great chorus of Tell, where Rossini always prone to compose crescendos, wrote the most eloquent and magisterial of them all.

The Muti/La Scala Tell is my favorite recording of the work. It scores over the Chailly and Gardelli in that it´s incomparably better conducted. And even if Chris Merritt can´t compete in sheer vocal beauty with Pavarotti, it´s Merritt the one who actually was brave enough to sing Arnold live. Pavarotti recorded the role but never sang it on stage. Gedda sang it only twice in the 1969 Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (under Muti by the way), and almost finished his career right there.

I have never seen Tell live, and it´s one of the things I just have to do before I die.
Last edited by josé echenique on Wed Nov 10, 2010 9:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

John F
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Re: William Tell-It's More Than An Overture !

Post by John F » Wed Nov 10, 2010 8:57 pm

"William Tell" is long overdue for a New York revival, as the Met last performed it in 1931. It's difficult to cast well, especially the demanding tenor role of Arnold, and without a star tenor who's keen to sing it or an influential conductor (read: James Levine) who wants to make a cause of the opera, I guess we'll have to keep on waiting. If Riccardo Muti's Met performances of last season aren't just a one-off, maybe he will be the instigator.

At least there are some worthy recordings. The EMI La Scala version is a strong one though Chris Merritt as Arnold came in for a lot of criticism; an earlier EMI recording with Nicolai Gedda, and Decca/London with Pavarotti, are both strongly cast and conducted.
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Wallingford
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Re: William Tell-It's More Than An Overture !

Post by Wallingford » Wed Nov 10, 2010 10:19 pm

I always thought the "Dance for 6" was one of the most irresistibly catchy melodies ever created........ :mrgreen:
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

stefanher
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Re: William Tell-It's More Than An Overture !

Post by stefanher » Thu Nov 11, 2010 3:41 am

I have excerpts from it with Martinelli as well as all the complete versions & this shows the sort of tenor you actually need in the Arnold role. If there is somebody like that out there he's doing a good job of remaining anonymous.

josé echenique
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Re: William Tell-It's More Than An Overture !

Post by josé echenique » Thu Nov 11, 2010 9:34 am

For Arnold you need a high tenor with considerable power, a rare bird indeed.
Lately Giuseppe Sabatini has been singing the role and can be heard in a live ORFEO version from Vienna with Bertrand de Billy conducting. He is merely acceptable, but there´s much more to the role than he can offer. Chris Merritt was often criticized for his strange vocal production and often ugly sounds, but when in good voice he was very exciting and gives a splendid performance in the Muti recording. A month ago I heard Juan Diego Flórez in a recital where he sang the whole Arnold scena and he was great, but I doubt that he could sing the role complete.
I know the late Franco Bonisolli sang the role in the 70´s, he could had been an excellent Arnold.

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Re: William Tell-It's More Than An Overture !

Post by Chalkperson » Thu Nov 11, 2010 9:50 am

josé echenique wrote:For Arnold you need a high tenor with considerable power, a rare bird indeed.
Lately Giuseppe Sabatini has been singing the role and can be heard in a live ORFEO version from Vienna with Bertrand de Billy conducting. He is merely acceptable, but there´s much more to the role than he can offer. Chris Merritt was often criticized for his strange vocal production and often ugly sounds, but when in good voice he was very exciting and gives a splendid performance in the Muti recording. A month ago I heard Juan Diego Flórez in a recital where he sang the whole Arnold scena and he was great, but I doubt that he could sing the role complete.
I know the late Franco Bonisolli sang the role in the 70´s, he could had been an excellent Arnold.
I have the Orfeo Recording, it's conducted by Fabio Luisi not Bertrand De Billy... :wink:
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josé echenique
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Re: William Tell-It's More Than An Overture !

Post by josé echenique » Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:16 am

Chalkperson wrote:
josé echenique wrote:For Arnold you need a high tenor with considerable power, a rare bird indeed.
Lately Giuseppe Sabatini has been singing the role and can be heard in a live ORFEO version from Vienna with Bertrand de Billy conducting. He is merely acceptable, but there´s much more to the role than he can offer. Chris Merritt was often criticized for his strange vocal production and often ugly sounds, but when in good voice he was very exciting and gives a splendid performance in the Muti recording. A month ago I heard Juan Diego Flórez in a recital where he sang the whole Arnold scena and he was great, but I doubt that he could sing the role complete.
I know the late Franco Bonisolli sang the role in the 70´s, he could had been an excellent Arnold.
I have the Orfeo Recording, it's conducted by Fabio Luisi not Bertrand De Billy... :wink:
Ups! right.

val
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Re: William Tell-It's More Than An Overture !

Post by val » Fri Nov 12, 2010 5:09 am

I have excerpts from it with Martinelli as well as all the complete versions & this shows the sort of tenor you actually need in the Arnold role. If there is somebody like that out there he's doing a good job of remaining anonymous.

Yes, Martinelli would be the perfect interpreter of Arnold. The best modern performance I heard, was Pavarotti, even if he had not exactly the type of voice for the role.

John F
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Re: William Tell-It's More Than An Overture !

Post by John F » Fri Nov 12, 2010 7:16 am

All through Caruso's long time at the Met, in what's often called its Golden Age, they didn't perform "William Tell." It had last been given in 1894 with Francesco Tamagno, the first Otello, making his debut as Arnold. In 1923, two years after Caruso's death, they revived "Tell" in a new production with Giovanni Martinelli. I shouldn't think Caruso was at all interested in the role, which wouldn't have suited his darkening voice anyway, but the Met hadn't always cast Arnold with a star tenor, so perhaps the opera had just fallen out of favor with the public.
John Francis

josé echenique
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Re: William Tell-It's More Than An Overture !

Post by josé echenique » Fri Nov 12, 2010 8:54 am

val wrote:
I have excerpts from it with Martinelli as well as all the complete versions & this shows the sort of tenor you actually need in the Arnold role. If there is somebody like that out there he's doing a good job of remaining anonymous.

Yes, Martinelli would be the perfect interpreter of Arnold. The best modern performance I heard, was Pavarotti, even if he had not exactly the type of voice for the role.
You mean the recording, right?
Because he never sang the role on stage.

val
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Re: William Tell-It's More Than An Overture !

Post by val » Fri Nov 12, 2010 9:02 am

Yes, I am talking about the recording with Milnes and Freni and conducted by Chailly.

stefanher
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Re: William Tell-It's More Than An Overture !

Post by stefanher » Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:54 am

Have to confess that I prefer Gedda- but of course his version is in French.

josé echenique
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Re: William Tell-It's More Than An Overture !

Post by josé echenique » Fri Nov 12, 2010 11:17 am

stefanher wrote:Have to confess that I prefer Gedda- but of course his version is in French.
Gedda said that singing Arnold live was the biggest mistake of his life. He only sang 2 performances in his life and he almost looses his voice for good.
Arnold is far tougher than it seems, that´s why I admire Chris Merritt so much. He not only sang the La Scala performances but also at Covent Garden with Michel Plasson conducting the original French version opposite José van Dam and Lella Cuberli.

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