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Rossini Gugielmo Tell

Guglielmo Tell Giorgio Zancanaro
Arnoldo Chris Merritt
Gualtiero Farst Giorgio Surjan
Melchthal Franco de Grandis
Ruodi Vittorio Terranova
Leutoldo Alberto Noli
Gessler Luigi Roni
Matilde Cheryl Studer
Rodolfo - Ernesto Gavazzi
Jemmy Amelia Felle
Edwige Ludicana D'Intino
La Scala La Scala Theatre Orchestra, Theatre Choir & Ballet Company/Riccardo Muti
Producer: Luca Ronconi
[239 mins: 4:3: Italian: English Subtitles]

Opus Arte OALS3002D

Haven't you sometimes wondered what comes after the overture to William Tell?

Rossini's serious operas have only fairly recently been reappraised after long years of neglect and disparagement. Tancredi gave me a lot of pleasure; I wrote in Musical Pointers that opera seria is still an aquired taste and that DVD is a good one with which to begin acquiring it (Arthaus 100 206).

Semiramide, which I reviewed for The Opera Critic, is a rip-roaring tale of revenge, put together with plentiful musical imagination, great dramatic skill and surprises right to the end which is gripping in the sumptuous production from the Met with June Anderson, Marilyn Horne & Samuel Ramey (Arthaus 100 222).

Gugielmo Tell is played for all it is worth by the La Scala orchestra under Riccardo Muti's direction. Four hours duration, it has some longueurs, especially in the third act, with some rather tedious obligatory ballet. The singing is good enough, with Giorgio Zancanaro as Tell & Cheryl Studer as Matilde very satisfying, but there are no more than rudimentary attempts at acting.

But a compelling reason to acquire these DVDs is the imaginative production by Luca Ronconi, which really brings it to life. He has a very basic staging on an adaptable permanent set, which looks like a lecture hall or a church, but this is backed and dominated by four huge, movable screens on which are projected pictures, still and moving, of Switzerland's mountains, plains and treacherous weather (the storm on Lake Lucerne) which set the scenes perfectly. At the end we see a gigantic image of Muti himself bringing the opera to a triumphant ending.

Opus Arte's La Scala Collection is a useful mid-price venture, offering TV films of productions at the great Italian opera house with one feature which particularly appeals to me - the booklets have the original libretto in Italian, which you can follow whilst having the English subtitles on screen; I like to do so, especially during passages where the words are repetitive. There are listings of the sequences of named items, but no track numbers, regrettably, to help you sort things out.

© Peter Grahame Woolf