The Royal Opera House’s new production provides a rare chance to see Guillaume Tell (1929), often abridged due to its length, in its complete four-act form. It also marks the Covent Garden debut of firebrand director Damiano Michieletto, feted for his post-apocalyptic Idomeneo in Vienna and retirement home Falstaff.
On opening night, Michieletto's direction became the subject of media controversy when audience members booed en masse during a graphic scene of sexual violence. Although such shock tactics are nothing new at the Royal Opera, their presence against the apparent sweetness of Rossini's music seemed to jar, and even some critics were left aghast. There has been widespread praise for the cast and musicians, however: perhaps no surprise given the names involved. Award winning Canadian tenor Gerald Finley takes the lead role, and music director (and Rossini-devotee) Antonio Pappano conducts.
At the height of his fame, Gioachino Rossini was the most famous composer in the Europe, with a renown exceeding that of Beethoven and Schubert. Nicknamed ‘the Italian Mozart’ for his enchanting melodies, he composed thirty-nine operas before the age of thirty-seven. The likes of The Barber of Seville (1816), La Cenerentola (1817) and Moses in Egypt (1818) are mainstays of the operatic canon. Yet in 1929, four decades before the end of his life, Rossini retired. There would be no more opera; he returned to music sporadically, only producing a scattered handful of works. Guillaume Tell was his final operatic blaze of glory. Its score, challengingly virtuosic for singers and magnificent in its heroic grandeur, is a fitting testament to Rossini’s genius. The delectable tunes of his earlier work are joined by a new fluidity and splendour, looking towards the opera of Verdi and Wagner later in the nineteenth century.
|What||Guillaume Tell, Royal Opera House|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
29 Jun 15 – 17 Jul 15, 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM
|Website||Click here to book via the Royal Opera House’s website|