Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Essential Opera - Reading Together - Part 13

Rossini's opera William Tell was the last opera that Rossini wrote, even though he lived for about another forty years. Due to its extensive length (four hours!) it is usually trimmed for performance. The overture to this opera is probably the part of the opera that is best known.

Set in 13th century Switzerland, which was at this time occupied by Austria. One day an Austrian soldier tries to assault Leuthold's daughter. Leuthold kills the guard in defence and William Tell helps him escape. William Tell is an expert archer. Since he has opposed the Austrians, Gessler (the local Austrian governor) has him arrested. Gessler decides he will let Tell live if he can shoot an apple from his son's head with a single arrow. Tell takes two arrows and uses one to successfully shoot the apple off his son's head. Gessler inquires about the second arrow, and Tell confesses he kept it back to kill Gessler. Tell and his son escape. While Gessler is pursuing them, Tell kills him with a single shot.

For more on William Tell, check out this NPR introduction to the opera.
Leave your comments and impressions below. And, don't forget to read the fourteenth installment for next week.

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