25 June 2015 at 5.01pm | 1 Comment
The Royal Opera’s new production of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell opens on 29 June. Award-winning Italian director Damiano Michieletto makes his Royal Opera debut with the production, which stars Gerald Finley and is conducted by Royal Opera Music Director Antonio Pappano.
‘When I first started studying this piece I was hit as if by a thunderbolt’, says Antonio.
The opera, which depicts the Swiss battle for liberation from repressive Austrian occupation, features some of Rossini’s most inspired music. The score, harmonically daring and fiercely difficult for the singers, evokes both the bucolic Swiss landscape and the menace of military occupation.
‘The piece uses a lot of colourful instrumentation to give the feeling of nature, the beauty and mystery of it, and the soil and earth that gives us our country. We’re in Switzerland and so it’s mountains’, explains Antonio. ‘In the score, you hear off-stage horns from different sides – Rossini is using these effects to create the aura of the mountains. I have to figure out where to put these to get the effect of near and far, which is difficult backstage at Covent Garden!’
The overture, the ‘Lone Ranger’, is one of the most distinctive themes in classical music.
‘The Lone Ranger bit represents something quite menacing’, says Antonio. ‘It’s a military idea, and of course this piece is about trying to yank the yoke of occupation off. If you hear the music in that sense, you hear the menace of the Austrians and absolute tyranny of the soldiers and the regime.’
The production is staged with thanks to generous philanthropic support from Hélène and Jean Peters and David Hancock