Episode #17

William Tell: Rossini's Grand Finale

« previous episode | next episode »

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Set design by George Tsypin. (Photo by Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera.)

Gioachino Rossini was only 37-years-old when he wrote his final opera, William Tell. Although he lived for another 40 years, this epic work would remain a swan song of sorts. The libretto — based on a French play by Friedrich Schiller — tells the story of a Swiss community fighting for political freedom under Hapsburg rule. Through the music, we understand Tell's struggle to keep his family together while serving the greater good, and we experience a love that transcends tribal and national boundaries. 

On this week's episode of He Sang/She Sang, hosts Merrin Lazyan and Julian Fleisher are joined by author Fred Plotkin to discuss the glorious music of Rossini's final opera, William Tell. We also speak with the Tony-nominated set designer George Tsypin about the themes of nature and freedom that inspired him. 

Fred's YouTube pick (Luciano Pavarotti): 

Merrin's YouTube pick (Mary Schneider): 

Julian's YouTube pick: 

This episode features excerpts from the following album:

Rossini: William Tell (EMI Classics, 2011)
— Gerald Finley, baritone; Marie-Nicole Lemieux, contralto; Elena Xanthoudakis, soprano; Malin Byström, soprano; John Osborn, tenor; Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia conducted by Antonio Pappano

Comments [6]

Cara De Silva from New York City

I hardly have words for how interesting, even compelling, I found this podcast and all that you said and shared about Rossini and Guillaume Tell. What a great prelude to this extraordinarily beautiful opera. Fred Plotkin, you are a superb source. So glad you and your deep knowledge are out there for listeners to draw upon.

Mar. 19 2017 05:51 PM
Fern Berman from Madison, CT

I commented yesterday, however, I just listened to the Podcast again because I was so deeply moved by Fred Plotkin's comments and descriptions. There are so many important things to think about with this opera as well as many others.
Thank you for allowing us (your audience) understand what we are listening to.
Fern Berman

Mar. 19 2017 03:56 PM
Fern Berman from CT.

Simply .... Brilliant.
Thank you Fred Plotkin.

Mar. 18 2017 10:53 AM
Richard Pairaudeau from Madrid

Totally agree Concetta - breathlessly beautiful: gives a sense of rising through cloud into high-altitude sunshine!

Mar. 18 2017 07:33 AM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

The final chorus of this opera is gorgeous.

Mar. 14 2017 03:40 PM
Sanford Rothenberg from Brooklyn

At long last,the MET has presented "Guillaume Tell",the original French version of the opera,which had previously been presented as "Guglielmo Tell" in Italian.The tenor role of Arnold (or Arnoldo in the Italian version) had been sung by stentorian tenors in the past,such as Tamagno,Martinelli,and Lauri-Volpi,but in recent years,the role has been sung by more lyric voices (Hymel and Osborn is the MET's production).It was felt that the MET missed a golden opportunity to present the opera with Nicolai Gedda, considered the definitive Arnold,or Luciano Pavarotti,the best of the interpreters in Italian.

Mar. 14 2017 02:53 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.