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The Sunday Opera: Gioachino Rossini's "Guillaume Tell" in Its Original Four-Act Version

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Even though he lived for another 40 years, Gioachino Rossini planned for his 1829 opera, “Guillaume Tell” to be his last, and we’re going back to that original four-act work on this week’s Sunday Opera (6/12 3:00 p.m.) in a 1973 recording featuring Gabriel Bacquier, Montserrat Caballe, Mady Mesple, Nicolai Gedda, and Gwynne Howell. Many people know the work only from a segment of its nearly twelve-minute-long overture, but this week, we’ll hear all of the nearly four hours Rossini intended.

The opera ran afoul of the Italian censors when it was written because it “glorified a revolutionary figure rising against authority” as it centers on Tell whose love of his Swiss homeland champions the people to fight against the invading Habsburg forces to end their 100-year occupation.

The devilishly difficult role of Tell is expertly handled by Gabriel Bacquier with Jocelyne Taillon as his wife Hedwige, and Mady Meslpe as his son Jemmy. Tell’s friend Arnold is sung by Nicolai Gedda and Arnold’s love, the Habsburg princess Mathilde, is Monsterrat Caballe. The Austrian governor Gessler is Louis Hendrikx and Arnold’s father, another Swiss patriot named Melchthal, is Gwynne Howell.

Other members of the cast include: Kolos Kovacs, Charles Burles, Ricardo Cassinelli, Nicolas Christou, and Leslie Fyson. Lamberto Gardelli conducts the Ambrosian Opera Chorus and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Join us for a heroic afternoon that has a happy ending – the best kind.

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.
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