Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Guillaume Tell. It was last on stage 29 June—17 July 2015 as part of the Summer 2014/15 season.
The Swiss hero William Tell longs to liberate his people from the cruel Austrian occupation. When he helps a Swiss prisoner escape Austrian justice he comes to the attention of the governor Gesler – who sadistically forces Tell to shoot an apple off his son's head.
As Tell is arrested his fellow revolutionaries, led by the young patriot Arnold and his Austrian lover Mathilde, gather forces to fight for Swiss liberty. Tell escapes in time to lead the victorious uprising.
Guillaume Tell had its premiere in 1829, when Gioachino Rossini was 37. He wouldn't write another opera in the remaining 39 years of his life. Rossini's letters suggest he knew Guillaume Tell would be his farewell to opera – an idea that seems to be confirmed by the magnificent music he was inspired to produce. The score – harmonically daring and fiercely difficult for the singers – has an opulent architectural grandeur, heightened with vivid evocations of the soaring Swiss landscape and an incisive dramatic interpretation of Schiller's heroic play.
Italian rising star Damiano Michieletto (La bohème and Falstaff at Salzburg Festival; Un ballo in maschera at La Scala, Milan) makes his Royal Opera debut with a contemporary production, the Company's first since 1990. Rossini made full use of his considerable powers of invention to create some of his greatest music, with highlights such as Tell's Act III aria 'Sois immobile' and the astonishing Act II trio 'Quand l'Helvétie est un champ de supplices' clearly paving the way for Berlioz, Verdi and Wagner.
News and features
20 June 2017
Our favourites of the undisputed kings of opera, from Idomeneo to Peter Grimes via Siegfried and Otello.
10 July 2015
Five of our favourite final masterpieces from opera’s greatest composers.
6 July 2015
Backstage films from the live relay of Guillaume Tell, including rehearsal footage and exclusive interviews.
5 July 2015
What did you think of our live relay of Damiano Michieletto's production of Rossini's grand opera?
5 July 2015
The scene that caused some concern at the opening night has not changed in its essence.
1 July 2015
Read a joint response from Alex Beard, Antonio Pappano and Kasper Holten.
Guillaume Tell (English: William Tell, Italian: Guglielmo Tell) is an opera in four acts by Gioachino Rossini to a French libretto by Étienne de Jouy and Hippolyte Bis. Based on Friedrich Schiller's play William Tell, which drew on the William Tell legend, the opera was Rossini's last, although he lived for nearly forty more years. The overture, in four sections and featuring a depiction of a storm as well as a vivacious finale, the "March of the Swiss Soldiers," is often played. Charles Malherbe, archivist at the Paris Opéra, discovered the original orchestral score of the opera at a secondhand book seller's shop, resulting in its being acquired by the Paris Conservatoire.