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date: 14 December 2019

Guillaume Tell(ii) [Guglielmo Tell (‘William Tell’)locked

  • Richard Osborne

Extract

[Guglielmo Tell (‘William Tell’)

Opé ra in four acts by Gioachino Rossini to a libretto by (Victor-Joseph-)Etienne de Jouy and Hippolyte-Louis-Florent Bis , assisted by Armand Marrast and Adolphe Crémieux, based on Friedrich von Schiller ’s play Wilhelm Tell; Paris, Opéra, 3 August 1829.

Guillaume Tell, Rossini’s last opera, is the new grand opéra he had been contracted to write under the terms of the agreement with the French government drawn up in 1824 at the time of his arrival as a resident in Paris. A number of texts were considered for the project, including two by Scribe, one of which later became Auber’s Gustave III and Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, the other Halévy’s La Juive. The choice of Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell (1804) was both adventurous and shrewd. Whether or not Rossini intended this to be his last opera, it brings together elements of his art he had successfully developed over the previous 17 years. Schiller’s original play engages themes in which the mature Rossini showed a special interest: among them, the political ideals of a conservative people who seek independence with peace, and the psychology of paternal relations. It also enabled Rossini to exploit further an underlying interest in the related genres of folk music, pastoral, and the picturesque. The libretto, drafted by Étienne de Jouy, was revised by H.-L.-F. Bis, Armand Marrast, Adolphe Crémieux (who helped shape the Act 2 finale) and, most importantly, by Rossini himself....

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