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Rossini’s Guillaume Tell had premiered at the Opéra in 1829, so neither Dorus-Gras nor Falcon were around to create the role of Mathilde. One can only wonder what they would have made of Damiano Michieletto’s production, filmed at Covent Garden in 2015. What a dour performance this is in its updating to a European postwar conflict: dull costumes, bad lighting, everything pushed to the front of the stage, the cast trogging around on dirt. Thankfully Antonio Pappano’s conducting provides the flair that’s missing on the stage. Gerald Finley’s Tell provides burnished tone, John Osborn’s Arnold pings out his top Cs, though the strain starts to tell. Malin Byström’s Mathilde eludes me, with her occluded tone and bumpy coloratura. But the cast works hard and is ultimately defeated by the production. Much ink has already been spilled about the infamous rape scene during the ballet. To add my two penn’orth, is there no other way for a director to illustrate suppression of a nation and its people than by female rape? Pathetic.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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