Notes & Reviews:
In Rome this past fall, Antonio Pappano and the choir and orchestra of the Accademia Nationale di Santa Cecilia launched the present season with complete performances of Rossini's fi nal French opera seria, William Tell. It is this rare and justly celebrated revival of Rossini's opera - one scarcely known today, beyond the familiar climax of its overture - that EMI Classics captures live on a landmark new recording.
The many cinematic and television appearances of the famous theme from the overture, including A Clockwork Orange, The Lone Ranger and Bugs Bunny, makes this one of the few works to be known universally way beyond the opera-loving public. In addition to the overture, there are many other great moments to discover amongst the arias, finales, spectacular crowd scenes, chorus and dances.
Joining Pappano is the Orchestra e Coro dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia under his musical directorship and a stellar international cast featuring by Canadian baritone Gerald Finley in the title role and American tenor John Osborn.
This 3-CD clamshell set is a new operatic offering that continues the partnership between Pappano/Santa Cecilia and EMI Classics which began with the awardwinning Puccini: Madama Butterfl y recording in 2009 with Angela Gheorghiu in the title role and tenor Jonas Kaufmann. The release won the Gramophone Award for Best Opera Recording that year.
"There's so much to enjoy about William Tell, and Pappano unerringly brings it all out: the story's ingenious entwining of romance and revolution and the great range of choral parts, from Austrian soldiers to Swiss women, huntsmen to shepherds, which more than compensates for the relative infrequency of truly great arias. Malin Byström excels on Mathilde's lonely "Sombre Fôret", while Gerald Finley captures Tell's nobility perfectly in "Sois Immobile". Superb." -The Independent
"The orchestra is fleet and wonderfully together, with crunch, buoyancy, a keen sense of collective phrasing and its own very distinctive sound...An excellent cast, led by Gerald Finley, on magnificent form...[Pappano’s] singers brought meaning to every phrase, giving us driven motivated vocal lines." -The Financial Times
"Pappano gives it his all throughout, and manages to keep the sluggish first hour going at a fair lick, masking its shortcomings. But things really take fire when Rossini’s genius kicks into top gear with the heroine Mathilde’s achingly beautiful aria Sombres forêts and the stirring chorus of defiance Des profondeurs du bois immense. From here to the concluding hymn to liberty, the opera – and this performance – is enthralling. Gerald Finley makes an excellent Tell, crisply authoritative and committed." -The Telegraph
All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
Antonio Pappano's recording of Guillaume Tell with Accademia di Santa Cecilia Orchestra and Chorus is the first commercial recording of the authoritative 1994 edition of the opera by M. Elizabeth C. Bartlet. At three and half hours, it is essentially compete, with only a few cuts the composer had sanctioned. The performance, recorded live at 2010 concert presentations, reveals the seldom-heard opera as a masterpiece that deserves a place in the repertoire.
It was Rossini's last opera, and it both summarizes his mastery of musical drama and moves opera into new directions that were to influence both Verdi and Wagner. The finale is a remarkable moment, unlike quite anything that had come before it in opera, resplendently Wagnerian in the luminous, cathartic serenity of its depiction of the Swiss peoples' joy at being freed from a century of Austrian oppression.
Gerald Finley is splendid in the title role. He projects nobility and humanity, and his singing is nuanced, powerfully ringing, and warm. The bulk of singing falls not to Tell, but to the morally complex Arnold, sung by tenor John Osborn, who handles the long, arduous, dramatic, (and high-lying role) with distinction. His voice is not large, but he conveys an Italianate ardor and maintains an appropriate lyrical intensity throughout. Soprano Malin Byström as Mathilde delivers a less-even performance. When she is highlighted, as in her second-act solo "Sombre forêt" and extended scene with Arnold, she tends to sound forced and labored, but otherwise, when she is interacting as part of the ensemble, she seems considerably more relaxed, and by the fourth act her singing is eloquent and assured. In the significant role of Jemmy, Tell's son, Elena Xanthoudakis is entirely convincing, singing with youthful energy and winsome simplicity. The large supporting cast is uniformly excellent, and the excitement generated by the characters' interactions is terrific, particularly in the fabled scene in which Tell is compelled to shoot an apple off his son's head. The chorus plays an unusually large role and sings with dramatic urgency and sumptuous tone.
Pappano draws gorgeous, stylish, graceful playing from the orchestra and creates tremendous excitement in the dramatic moments. The sound of the recording is consistently well-balanced, clear, and resonant, and the audience and page-turning noises are only minimally distracting. Highly recommended for anyone who loves opera.
Recording information: Sala Santa Cecilia, Auditorium Parco della Musica, Rome (2010-10-16_2010-10-20&2010-).
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Works DetailsRossini, Gioachino : Guglielmo Tell
- Conductor: Antonio Pappano
- Ensemble: Orchestra e coro dellÆAccademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
- Notes: Sala Santa Cecilia, Auditorium Parco della Musica, Rome, Italy (2010-10-16_2010-10-20&2010-)
- Running Time: 86 min. 2 sec.
- Period Time: Romantic
- Form: Opera/Operetta
- Written: 1829