Guillaume Tell

Gioachino Rossini

Opera in four acts
Libretto: Victor-Joseph Etienne de Jouy and Hippolyte-Louis-Florent Bis
World premiere: 3 August 1829, Paris
Premiere of this production: 12 September 2014, Welsh National Opera, Cardiff
Co-produced by: Welsh National Opera, Cardiff; Houston Grand Opera; Grand Théâtre de Géneve
In the original French with Polish surtitles

Who hasn’t heard the legend of William Tell, the expert archer who, forced to shoot an arrow at an apple balanced on his son’s head, hit the target!? The overture to Gioachino Rossini’s opera is extremely popular, the music first rolling along seriously and then falling into an exciting gallop! But few people are familiar with the opera itself, very seldom staged because it is tough to execute. Rossini wrote William Tell in French, for Paris, in four acts, in accordance with the grand opera style popular there at the time. He always composed in his own way, but operatic Europe had already embraced Romanticism, as you can see and hear in Tell. The libretto was based on the play by Friedrich Schiller, an icon of Romantic literature, showing the Swiss fighting for freedom with Austrian invaders. The imagery – a country wedding with dancing, hunts, the pacification of the village, the protagonist’s home burning down, oaths taken by insurgents in the night, battles, killings, prayers for salvation, the storm on the lake, love above conflict – could make it tempting to do a “grand production”. But British director David Pountney has cumulated the action within unchanging, multi-purpose, multiple-tier sets, and made giant shooting targets and soldiers’ metal armour the main visual motif. He often entrusts the expression of emotions to dancers in intimate balet scenes. He has directed the audience’s attention not to theatrical effects but to Rossini’s music. Quite rightly! Those arias! Those duets! And the choruses! What colourful orchestral instrumentation! With this opera, Rossini reached his peak – it was the last one. After Tell, over the next almost forty years, he never wrote another.



Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera
Polish National Ballet
Guest dancers


  • Patron of Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera

  • Partners of Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Media patrons of Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

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