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Your Reaction: Guillaume Tell

What did you think of Damiano Michieletto's production of Rossini's final opera?

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

30 June 2015 at 10.08am | 119 Comments

What did you think of William Tell?


By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

30 June 2015 at 10.08am

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged by Damiano Michieletto, Guillaume Tell, Production, review, Social Media, William Tell

This article has 119 comments

  1. ramsay ismail responded on 30 June 2015 at 10:55am Reply

    Last night one feeble idea after another unfolded in a dispiriting, vacuous and historically uninformed production. I'm sick of chairs, lightbulbs and soldiers wielding revolvers and machine guns. And why was Rossini's glorious ballet music soiled by a gratuitous rape scene?
    We are fed up of being treated like children.

  2. Martin Dodsworth responded on 30 June 2015 at 11:27am Reply

    I hope a very close eye is being kept on this team before they dish up a Cav and Pag as bad as this. ROH how many more disasters and unrevivable productions can you afford?

  3. Michael Normington responded on 30 June 2015 at 11:51am Reply

    A first-rate musical experience of a rarely performed opera, congratulations to all, undermined by a crass, unimaginative offering from a director with no apparent sense of stagecraft. Audience booing while music is in progress is unforgivable, and is discourteous to conductor, orchestra and singers alike. They have my sympathy, and admiration for responding in such an impressive way. Management please note: there is still time to rescue Cav and Pag by importing a tried and tested production, and to pension off yet another in a long line of directors who has no love of opera and thinks he knows better than the composer.

  4. Edward Q responded on 30 June 2015 at 12:14pm Reply

    Some 'revisionist' reflections. The initial strategy behind the production had some interesting legs - the impact of war and occupation on the young, the role of folklore 'war heroes' - but felt with the delivery it started offline and missed the mark. The soil and roots was too trite and simple a metaphor even for basic folk like me.

    I'm going to ignore *that* scene for now in favour of remembering Graham Vick's beautiful version (which, incidentally, includes an Austrian solider forcibly groping a Swiss woman in the background as Tell shoots the arrow from Jemmy's head - the indifference of this one Austrian towards Jemmy's fate and instead preferring to think of his loins a far more powerful image IMO) to pick up on and bemoan the depiction of Arnolde's internal struggles. We know the character is suffering some kind of turmoil, but a moment where he threatens suicide, then points a revolver at Mathilde's head, and is earlier depicted causing the death of his own father seemed odd.

    The heckling at the beginning of Act 4 was totally unacceptable. Some terribly disrespectful comedians 'faux' snoring as Arnolde wakes up to deliver his big moment - John Osborn must be applauded for keeping his composure, and well done to the audience for shutting the people up who felt the need to continue airing their disapproval.

  5. Ian Moffat responded on 30 June 2015 at 12:14pm Reply

    I went with an open mind, not knowing the music (apart from the Overture and the bits that Britten recycled) and not having read the Synopsis. Theatrically, the production works well in telling the story, with many political resonances for the modern day. Musically it was a treat, with the Chorus and Orchestra providing a sumptuous backing for some wonderful singing from Gerald Finley, John Osborn, Malin Byström et al.

    I wonder if the "Disgustededs of Tunbridge Wells" who were booing the rape scene (they were fine with the old man being shot dead at the end of Act 1 by the way), realise that they are part of a long and dishonourable tradition. They would no doubt have been braying like asses at the premiere of the Rite of Spring too had they been around. If Art doesn't challenge it dies. If they want to live in a chocolate box world they should do the rest of us a favour and get out less.

    Contrary to what is being reported, the disapproval was far from unanimous, with the production team taking a further 2 or 3 bows to shouts of "Bravo" after the booing had subsided.

  6. Will Smith responded on 30 June 2015 at 12:18pm Reply

    The rape scene was just the moment when this production went from dire to inexcusable. The quality of the stage direction as a whole was pathetic. It did not support the music or libretto and with the comic book and contradictory use of both modern soldiers AND kitsch Robin hood in tights meant that the audience could not commit to any plot line with any seriousness. What direction there was consistently cut across the musical drama. An example being the trio (Arnold/Tell/Walter) where Jemmy Tell took all attention away from the actual music and drama by prancing around with a sword. The rape scene was not implied by Rossini's ballet music and as such cut across and obscured the music completely. It was gratuitous. The booing was selective and reserved only for the direction as it stopped (with the exception of one heckler) as soon as Gerald Finlay appeared. The curtain calls where unanimous in well deserved applause and cheering for the orchestra, soloists, chorus and Pappano. The audience reserved it's ire and jeering for the Director who made an irreverent and childish staging of a romantic era epic story and opera. He should be removed from the Cav/Pag next season immediately. Pathetic.

    • Theo Palmer responded on 30 June 2015 at 3:23pm

      Hear, hear. Michieletto's involvement in the Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci production next season is deeply disturbing. One can only hope that the Royal Opera House comes around to the fact that this sort of corruption of operatic masterworks is inexcusable.

  7. elizabeth gorman responded on 30 June 2015 at 12:28pm Reply

    A patchy production, some good ideas but all totally ruined by a crass, distasteful and unnecessary rape scene. Totally ruined the evening for me and many others. It's not new or provocative.. we had rape in Donna del Lago and Vepres Siciliennes.. it's the last resort for directors devoid of any sense or sensibility

  8. David Felton responded on 30 June 2015 at 12:46pm Reply

    There is a line which separates art from life - let's call it aesthetic decorum - and this line was transgressed last night. The rape scene was clumsy, clichéd and coarse; it left me feeling numb.

  9. Stefano responded on 30 June 2015 at 1:00pm Reply

    Maybe it would be helpful to remind the ROH audience that this is 2015 and queen Victoria died a long time ago. You may like or dislike a production (I personally enjoyed it) but booing a rape scene, which was fully compatible with the context, is simply ridiculous and anachronistic.

    • Jacqueline responded on 30 June 2015 at 2:13pm

      Objections to crude rape scenes 'anachronistic'? You mean we should be enlightened enough to enjoy it, or that rape is old hat?

    • Patrick Willis responded on 30 June 2015 at 7:50pm

      I was there in the amphitheatre and I joined the mood of audience discontent from the lame first scene and, as regierungsoper cliche followed cliche ( can we have a ten year moratorium on fascist uniforms for a start?) the mood grew more and more restive. I go to the opera to see performers, not a slide show.The extended and gratuitous rape scene tipped the audience into open revolt. We held our breath as the director introduced an entirely gratuitous bath scene with young children ... Don't these people who run the ROH read the newspapers? Yes, we all applauded the singers and musicians who gave of their best but the production was frankly dire. It's got to the stage now when you know that one in three productions at the ROH is going to be a complete turkey, thanks to the ego of the directors. By all means let's have productions in modern dress ( provided everyone is in modern dress-can we please banish the Wagnerian ankle length black leather coat?) but let's have good, sensitive directing that doesn't try to ram home a moral lesson or a contemporary parallel with a mallet.

  10. Jordan Mearns responded on 30 June 2015 at 1:06pm Reply

    While the rape scene was patchily effected, I thought the idea behind its inclusion was astute: intentionally setting up a stark opposition between the light music and the violence of the scene. Bel Canto opera has this uneasy incongruousness at its very core, beautiful music cast like a veil over brutal or passionate themes. The outrage issuing from the auditorium was depressingly provincial and obtrusive. The noisy waves of aggression and disrespect for performers and other viewers was deeply troubling, far more so than a staging of rape.

  11. Jacqueline responded on 30 June 2015 at 2:09pm Reply

    Oh dear: I have yet to see the production. However, I do not think nudity works on stage; the suggestion is more effective theatrically. I also resent people booing during a performance - save it for the end - let the rest of us decide for ourselves. Being enraged by self-centred booers does not help.

  12. Robert Pullen responded on 30 June 2015 at 2:32pm Reply

    My problem was not so much with the extended rape scene, gratuitous as it was, but with the two and half hours of bathetic, cliche-ridden drivel that preceded it. It is all very well new or infrequent visitors to Covent Garden being refreshed by an updated 'relevant' staging of a nationalistic 13th Century story, but anyone with even 20 years of opera-going experience has encountered white box sets, neon lights, Kalashnikovs and masses of chairs and tables with a frequency that bores to tears. None of what I saw last night helped demonstrate what a musical masterpiece Rossini's last opera is. John Cox's previous Covent Garden staging was, at all points, vastly superior: it managed to portray the oppression of a down-trodden and occupied people graphically (e.g. bridegrooms in Act 1 hauled off stage and returning with indications of having been castrated by the occupiers) alongside some heart-stopping stage pictures - the hymn to freedom at the very end was deeply moving. And this while always remaining alert and sensitive to Rossini's sublime score, including the Acts 1 and 2 dance divertissement and Act 2 meeting of the cantons (much of which was cut in latest production). It is the crassness of the directorial conception that, yet again, has left us who spend an awful lot of our hard-earned money at Covent Garden trudging home underwhelmed and with the nagging thought that maybe this work isn't as good as I thought it was. That's some achievement Sig,Michieletto.

  13. Michael D responded on 30 June 2015 at 2:33pm Reply

    I was impressed by the courage of this challenging production not to pull any punches. It was timely to explore how exposure to extreme brutality mixed with simplitistc 'comic-book' historical mythology can have strong inflence, especially to the young. To tone down or santitise that bruality is therefore to miss the point. The efforts of some audience to drown out ideas that they do not like is both alarming and regressive; something that I hope will not influence the Royal Opera management. I would also like to point out that many in the house cheered and appluaded the production and that press reports of unamious condemnation are exaggerated. Musically execellent this production was brave and illustrates why the genre, and indeed Rossini, continues to be relevant today. I am excitedly anticipating what the same director will make of Cav and Pag next year.

  14. Emile Myburgh responded on 30 June 2015 at 2:40pm Reply

    I have prepared for this performance by listening to Antonio Pappano's recording of William Tell. How different is this performance, musically, from the recording? Any cuts?

  15. jay slacker responded on 30 June 2015 at 3:54pm Reply

    To enable a suspension of disbelief, opera requires the three parts, words, music, staging, to work together, each reinforcing the others (ask Wagner; he knew a bit about music drama). What appears to have happened here is that the director's "concept" has been allowed to steamroller the subtleties of the libretto and the music; there is a disconnect which alienates the audience; from the start, the video screen suddenly appearing presaged a lack of basic stagecraft, and thereafter it was downhill.

    I am not a ROH detractor; some of the recent productions I have seen have been outstanding, some at least good. With this one, however, while the chorus, singers, orchestra, conductor were excellent, I was never fully involved because of the clumsy staging. I just hope that the future production of Pag is not set in IS Syria with Canio a wandering Imam; noooo!

  16. Jacky Tarleton responded on 30 June 2015 at 4:11pm Reply

    If the director had included dance, as was Rossini's intention, this uproar might have been avoided. Instead, he had two long sequences of dance music to fill.
    The first should have been a Swiss village wedding with three happy couples dancing. Instead there was an extremely tedious scene where Jemmy tried and failed to shoot with a bow and arrow again and again.
    The second dance scene should have been where the Austrians forced the Swiss peasants to dance with them. Unpleasant, yes, but stylised. In Graham Vick's production for Pesaro there was also booing, because as the Swiss danced their jolly folk dances, the Austrians became increasingly aggressive and barbaric, but it was all through the dance. Here, there was no dance, only the horrific brutalisation of a young woman, which lasted a long time because of the length of the dance music.

  17. Sarah Roberts responded on 30 June 2015 at 4:27pm Reply

    We had been so looking forward to attending this performance (especially as we had heard the thrilling performance at the Albert Hall a few years ago) that we paid for seats in row B of the Stalls - the most expensive tickets we have ever bought in our 50 years of opera-going, apart from for Donna del Lago at La Scala. Across the aisle from us in row A was a couple with a young boy. They did not return to their seats after the first interval; did someone advise them, I wonder, to miss the next three acts? There was no warning from the management of the ROH taht we should expect such violence and nudity. Yes, we felt that the rape scene was gratuitous, but this whole production coming so soon after the gunning down of Britons in Tunisia and other horrific killings by IS, was totally inappropriate and in very poor taste. I am tired of productions which feature so much blood and gore. Thank goodness we decided to opt (possibly not, now) for the cinema relay of Cav and Pag and not for a a performance at the ROH. As another person has said, heads must roll - and soon!

    • ML responded on 30 June 2015 at 6:33pm

      Good points, Sarah. Management should have warned patrons to expect adult and provocative content. I nearly booked this opera to bring the entire family along, and now I am glad I chose another ROH production that I knew well instead.

  18. Andrew Hogbin responded on 30 June 2015 at 5:05pm Reply

    A total disaster. Holten should be dismissed and the future Cav & Pag re-assigned to someone who respects and loves the piece. This production, along with the recent equally disastrous Maria Stuarda, must be one of the ugliest ever. I for one will be reviewing my future attendance at Covent Garden.

    • Mark responded on 1 July 2015 at 1:26pm

      Well said!
      After four disasters in little over a year , 'Manon Lescaut', 'Maria Stuarda', 'Idomeneo' and now 'William Tell' it is clear that Kasper Holten cares little for audience reaction and more about his inflated ego. He is mounting productions that will only be seen for one run as they are too awful to revive. Such inept productions are not worthy and do not befit the ROH.

  19. Richard Keisner responded on 30 June 2015 at 5:40pm Reply

    The orchestra and singing was absolutely excellent - but the direction was hackneyed and vile from the first projection of the toy soldiers.

    Of course covering the stage with fake earth to reflect the Land was very subtle - just like hitting oneself on the head with a hammer. Obviously the Director needed something to take our attention to the large blank canvas of a stage setting enlivened only by a revolving dead tree and large plain walls.

    The direction was dire - lacked any subtlety - and irritated throughout from its combination of Swiss patriots removing their knitwear to 'blood' themselves - and the 'man in tights' with his arrows.

    That was before we got to the rape scene which was just offensive. I had no problem with the nudity/debauchery in last years Rigoletto but this was just bad and pandered to the director's desire to shock rather than direct.

    I am only pleased that I had only one ticket and not taken friends/family - I am content to be irritated by wasting £193 but would have be much more upset if I had paid for 4 tickets.

    I shall not see this directors work again in the near future. Maybe he will grow up some time in the future and work sympathetically with an opera instead of trying to rebuild or demolish a fantastic work.

  20. Joanne Wood responded on 30 June 2015 at 6:02pm Reply

    The only "shocking" thing about last nights production was the director's total lack of imagination and originality. Does he have any idea how many "gang rape scenes" we've seen. Add to that the updating to the 20thC, Nazis, chairs, chorus standing around doing not much at all, etc, etc.... we've seen it all before a hundred times. I can't remember the last time I was so bored. And I really could have done without wee Jimmy Krankie and a romantic lead who looked like Onslow fron Keeping Up Appearances in a bad wig. I don't think Rossini is entirely blameless either, he wrote the load of old tosh. Thank God for Mr Finley, he was the only thing that made it bearable.

    • Gwyneth Macaulay responded on 30 June 2015 at 7:17pm

      Oh dear, I'v just read the reviews as well as your comment. What a poverty of ideas! You are right - we have seen so many witless productions, relying on a bit of cheap sensation instead of a deep understanding of the music and the context of the drama (which doesn't have to be set in aspic-like historical period- I recall the wonderful McVicar 'Salome' here - which really worked). I have just seen the train wreck Alden production of 'Queen of Spades' at the ENO - all cold war red army and - you've guessed it - piles of chairs! Such a shame when Alden actually produced good work with his Peter Grimes, so I'm not looking forward to this Tell. Sad that Pappano had to work with this.

  21. Patricia Holroyd responded on 30 June 2015 at 8:57pm Reply

    The 'bathing' of the children in their skimpy wet underwear constituted an especially offensive scene, which totally detracted from Rossini's 'sound picture', the aria sung by Hedwige.

    Please, ROH/Alex Beard - try to find someone to oversee productions, and to intervene long before the situation becomes iriversible.
    There apparently is someone employed to carry out this role ie. kasper Holten, but he is obviously totally ineffective.

  22. Philip Sides responded on 30 June 2015 at 9:15pm Reply

    Singing was excellent from all the leads, most especially Gerald Finley. But the performance was another disaster. Dominated by horrible dull colours and mis-matched chairs, it added nothing to the overall thrill of a night at the opera. I do not know the piece at all so had no preconceived ideas of how it should be staged. But by the end, I could only conclude that there must be more attractive ways to do it than this. The booing seemed to show that others felt the same. And this after a whole run of rather unpleasant stagings (Eugene Onegin, Manon Lescaut and Maria Stuarda to name but three). Again, where is Mr Holten to defend another disastrous waste of money?

  23. Beverly Averill responded on 30 June 2015 at 9:30pm Reply

    I was in the audience last night. The first scene made me and many others uncomfortable as it mirrored the Tunisian beach massacre (not the fault of the director), and the singing, apart from the chorus was mediocre. As the rest of the production, the singing at all levels, the conducting and the orchestra were superb. Unfortunately, the opera was ruined by Michieletto using it as a vehicle for what appeared to be his own perverted fantasies and justifying them as demonstrating that this is what happens in war. Whilst we all know that these things do happen, the graphic and endless rape scene was totally inappropriate and the young children having their outer clothes removed and standing in their vests and knickers being washed was not only gratuitous but could be interpreted as abusive. The was no place in this opera for such a scene.

    I find the patronising and name-calling attitude of both Kaspar Holten and Michieletto towards the audience shameful in the extreme. Instead of Kaspar Holten' apology to " those members of the audience who were disturbed or upset by what they saw" both he and Michieletto should have apologised for putting on such a tawdry, pointless and unintelligent third-rate production. Their attitude will not earn the support respect from audiences who, after all, represent their livelihood.

  24. Peter Geall responded on 30 June 2015 at 9:52pm Reply

    What I found most absurd was the updating to some time in the 20th century of a story set in a country that famously has played no part in modern warfare (except to launder its filthy spoils), but retaining all the specifically Swiss geographical references. Then the table-stabbing with arrows by Robin Hood was pretty absurd also. The music was sublime at times (once one got used to the fact that this was a very different Rossini to the composer even of Simiramide) and the iconic apple-splitting scene bursting with dramatic tension, but the various stripteases were almost comic, and the scene that has caused all the fuss could have been just as effectively disturbing without the actual nudity.

  25. JST responded on 30 June 2015 at 10:08pm Reply

    Given my experience of Guillaume Tell at the Royal Opera House yesterday, I can only conclude that opera direction is in an existential crisis that threatens the very existence of opera. Previous to my experience yesterday, I thought that the best one can get these days (with very few exceptions) is a production that is just a bit dull but at least not making a lot of noise so that one can close the eyes and enjoy the music. This has led me to ignore the names of directors and their work altogether. It is ironic that I would prefer a concert performance to a staged performance of an opera, which should really be staged!

    One might think that this is really the lowest point one can get to in the world of opera. However, the production of Guillaume Tell at the Royal Opera House has lowered the standard even further. Rather than ignoring the work of directors, I will now have to start a list of directors that I will need to avoid to prevent being upset for days. I can only support the disapproval that many in the audience showed DURING (!) the opera. Luckily, the musical quality does not correlate a lot with the quality of the productions (unfortunately it still does; it is still one institution at the end of the day).

    Given the response from the director, it seems not even worth it to explain what went wrong. It seems that he and his supporters think that the audience was shocked by naked people on stage or the violence and therefore take it as a sign of approval for the work (what a brilliant idea to shock people to make them think!). There was nothing “shocking” in this production. It might have been shocking in 1950 but it ceased to be shocking long before I was even born. Given my experience of the German Regietheater, the production was almost antiquated and absolutely harmless. There was nothing “modern” about it. What was really shocking was the lack of intelligence, skill and respect for the music.

    I really hope that the concerns that have been raised here and elsewhere are taken seriously. It seems to me that most of the concerns are not coming from people who want opera productions to be uncontroversial and historical but rather from people with a deep love for opera (many of them also young!) who just cannot bare the offensive ignorance and lack of intellect in some of the opera productions these days.

  26. John Petley-Jones responded on 30 June 2015 at 10:39pm Reply

    Mr Kasper Holten, you seem to be systematically trashing the treasured highly professional traditions of the Royal Opera by your insistence on ignorant and headline-grabbing productions. Manon Lescaut was another deplorable case in point, after which I suggested on these pages that you should review your position. I now plead with you to do so soon and find somewhere else less vulnerable to play your mischievous games. For, believe me, you are now seriously risking losing your loyal audience, who are crying (if not booing) "Enough!"

  27. Ruslan responded on 30 June 2015 at 11:09pm Reply

    A wonderful opera outstandingly performed by Pappano and most of the cast, with John Osborn and Gerald Finley absolutely stunning. I personally liked Michieletto's dark atmosphere which was well supported by a beautiful set design and I was not disturbed by the rape scene at all which was maybe a bit too long but properly described the brutality of war. The boos were not surprising, considering the average age of the ROH audience which is probably over 80. I can't wait to see it again.

  28. Irma Jestin responded on 30 June 2015 at 11:53pm Reply

    Un spectacle tellement rempli de clichés, de déjà-vu, de non-sens ....heureusement reste la musique!
    Un bravo aux artistes, pas facile de chanter dans une production aussi médiocre et rébarbative. Quelques imperfections côté orchestre et décalages des choeurs!
    J'ai fait le voyage depuis Aix en Provence pour voir ce chef-d'oeuvre de Rossini, je ne le regrette pas, mais je m'attendais à mieux!

  29. Johnc responded on 1 July 2015 at 7:54am Reply

    I watched the production and was absorbed from the start to the end. It is a magnificent piece. The rape scene is horrific, but certainly not gratuitous. This is the reality of war, powerfully portrayed. The booing ruined the show for me. This is a seriously good work that shouldn't be drowned by audiences who should be watching Carmen if they want light entertainment.

  30. Hugh Williams responded on 1 July 2015 at 9:12am Reply

    I was a booer. I don't think people like me would have booed had not the rest of this messy production been so self-indulgent and pretentious. I - and many other opera goers - are fed up with second rate directors imposing their 'concepts' on nineteenth century melodramas. These normally seem to include the tiresome cliché of a scene or two of simulated sex. We don't mind if productions are thoughtfully re-worked but we object strongly to arrogant, childish and misdirected re-interpretation. If the directors don't like what the original authors of the words and music intended, they should leave the works alone.

  31. Wilhelm Hartl responded on 1 July 2015 at 10:04am Reply

    For me this Tell is a disappointing and non rewarding production, sorry. Of course, Pappano, Finley and the chorus deliver brilliantly but not all cast is on the same level. The production is the low point, a mixed bag, on times clumsy and embarrassing, with lots of plagiarism and stereotypes as used by "Regietheater" directors. I liked the light design, though.
    The extended rape scene in act 3, which the director had freely invented in place of the ballet, worked as a tasteless distraction from the music. What shocked me, were the reactions. Mr. Holten, we understand that you wish to defend your colleague, but if you believe that it is the task of the ROH to lecture its audience about how "reality" looks, and, that political expressions are to be ranked above artistic merits, then please consider looking for a role in a place where your views are appreciated.
    After this Tell I dread thinking of the piecemeal Mr Michieletto could make of the verismo double bill should he be allowed to.

  32. A J Ashworth responded on 1 July 2015 at 10:21am Reply

    What staggered me about last Monday was the sight of people who have been going to the ROH far longer than I have, being prepared to voice their criticism in such a way during the actual performance! Does Mr Holten need to take a step back and reconsider his artistic view/direction? if there is one.

  33. Stephen Diviani responded on 1 July 2015 at 11:18am Reply

    Well, having read through the comments, I'm looking forward to seeing a performance next week. Sounds like the same reactionary crowd was present and oh so correct as at the first night of 'Idomeneo', which I thought was a tremendous production. I do hope the Opera House hold firm against these people, not least because they in no way represent the future of opera; they are stuck in a 1950's groove, where opera is pure escapism and 'aesthetic decorum' is maintained. Please. It's 2015, and Mr Holten has nothing for which to apologise. The ROH is fast becoming one of the most exciting houss in Europe.

  34. Tony Boyd-Williams responded on 1 July 2015 at 12:13pm Reply

    Bravo Stephen !

  35. Terry Osborne responded on 1 July 2015 at 12:38pm Reply

    Yet another disastrous production from Kasper Holten's ROH. They can only afford to put on rubbish like this because of their huge grant from the Arts Council. If you were booing or really objected to the production then don't go to future new productions. Write to Darren Henley , CEO of the Arts Council to complain about public funds being used for productions like this. If you support the ROH in other ways then stop. We cancelled our patronage after the string of bad to appalling productions. Indomeneo, Manon Lescaut, Maria Stuarda and now Guillaume Tell. As Rupert Christiansen says in his review " If this is the future of opera, God help us "

    • Stephen Diviani responded on 2 July 2015 at 8:58am

      And if, like me, you think that opera production should interpret operas for 21st century, rather than the 19th, and engage with the world as it, making operas politically & socially relavant, then write to ACE expressing your support for the ROH. It is only by such readings/stagings that opera will find new audiences, be purposeful, and live on into the next century.

  36. Phillip Wood responded on 1 July 2015 at 12:54pm Reply

    It really is offensive to label people who voice an opinion about a production as reactionary and "disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" who know very little about opera and whose comments can be safely ignored. I imagine that taking this approach makes individuals feel cool, edgy and forward looking whilst the rest are clearly both narrow minded and as Seneca2008 above described them "low brow".
    Audiences do not need to be hit over the head with a sledgehammer; the great productions I've seen over many years have not always been traditional but do have in common skilful direction which shows situations and relationships in a way that enlightens rather than brow beats. The current crop of misfires at the Royal Opera seem to me to be due to allowing the director's "artistic" vision (and ego) to be uppermost with the music there in support. Kasper Holten comes across as a decent guy but his artistic judgement must surely now be called into question.

  37. John M responded on 1 July 2015 at 1:56pm Reply

    Finley good, others less so. Opening cellos and trombones all over the place. Production was tragically poor with strangely disconnected view from the Amphitheatre. I registered my disapproval in the more traditional manner and left after the second act. Loved Don Giovanni and Traviata the previous week and am hoping for redemption from Falstaff next week

  38. Leonard Mostyn responded on 1 July 2015 at 2:08pm Reply

    Another example of a failed updated opera! This was a dreary, boring, uninspired , illogical production, regardless of the gratuitous sex scene.

  39. John Price responded on 1 July 2015 at 2:46pm Reply

    This cliché-ridden production seems to want to tell us that war is bad and that bad things happen during war. I suspect most adults know this, but the director here seems to think that his juvenile posturings tell us something new and enlighten us in ways that that we couldn’t possibly imagine. The stagecraft was almost laughable at times, and the chorus of men with guns trying to look minatory was downright hilarious. One cliché that could be abandoned is that of having singers fall to their knees to sing at dramatic moments. Why? And why are they obliged to sing while lying down? How many times has the director fallen to his knees in ordinary social contexts to express strong emotion? Mr. Finley sings and phrases beautifully, but he is not in the first flush of youth, and he obviously had difficulty getting up from time to time. Mr. Osborn is more than a decade younger, but I fear for his knees if he has to continue to do this in order to indulge directorial conceit. This production has no merit except that of showing us the vacuity of the director’s self-indulgent ego-trip. Opera fans do not make up a majority of the public, and if these impudent and value-free productions continue to make routine appearances on our opera stages, we may be permanently alienated. Isn’t that just a wee bit the opposite of what opera productions should try to achieve?

    • Ashley Allen responded on 3 July 2015 at 2:29pm

      Well said John..vacuousness, self-indulgence and ego trip..are all the descriptives you need for this appalling production.. I cannot even remember enjoying half of what I heard in terms of musicality and singing because of the nonsensical distractions taking place on stage. I was even looking at my watch praying for the interval at times. Sad, sad evening at Covent Garden.

  40. matteo gallanti responded on 1 July 2015 at 5:35pm Reply

    Why everybody is so offended by this rape and not by the McVicar one in Rigoletto where in Act 1 there is a full orgy????
    maybe because here a real issue (violence of military against women) is tackled?
    Well at least reactions were strong and thus keep opera lively otherwise we will be stuck with the horrible Moshinsky and Copley productions which I find more offensive than this one.
    and lest tackle the issue of the opera audience which is mainly mad of pensioners.

    • John M. responded on 2 July 2015 at 12:11pm

      I have yet to see this production so cannot comment on its strengths and weaknesses. However, I cannot think of any Moshinsky or Copley stagings which have not allowed the audience to make its own mind up. The productions have been respectful to the music and true to the text. You do not need to beat somebody over the head with a shovel to make a point. The comment about the issue of the audience, being made up of pensioners surprises me. Is he really trying to say that it is mainly retired people who go to opera? I don't know what the average age is, but the ROH does. Is he also saying that pensioners are blinkered and cannot accept modern stagings? What tosh! Where's the proof of his premise? I don't remember the pensioners booing Die Frau ohne Schatten, for example. Does he ever talk to the pensioners about opera? I suspect not, more's the pity for him.He might just learn something from someone with years of opera experience. Was it really just pensioners who booed? Really? Everyone else was blinded by the brilliant insights? That's not what I am reading. Does Mr Gallanti want to regulate who goes to the opera? OAPs need not apply.

    • Bill Worley responded on 2 July 2015 at 2:13pm

      I have just seen your comment which to put it bluntly, I find offensive. I am a regular opera goer (visiting houses all of the world) and I am NOT a pensioner.

      You also refer to Moshinsky and Copley productions as being horrible. Why is that? Is it that they have a huge reputation all over the world and their productions have been regularly revived. One reason why their productions have worked is that they actually spend time reading the libretto.

      In all my years of opera going (over 40 as I started going when I was 11) I don't remember a production by either gentleman being booed

  41. Stephen Ratcliffe responded on 1 July 2015 at 8:43pm Reply

    A shame we were not warned before buying tickets. I have just asked if I send my tickets back will I get a refund. I am not holding my breath. Shame on the opera house for not revising this scene.

  42. Roy responded on 1 July 2015 at 9:21pm Reply

    Revision of the scene would cheat those of us who haven't yet seen it of the full experience, for good or bad. I want to form my own view on Sunday, not have it edited for me because some boors booed. If it's bad, boo at the end, interrupting the music is never acceptable and hugely disrespectful to the rest of the audience who paid to hear it.

    • Jane Harrison responded on 4 July 2015 at 11:40pm

      Well said. I am horrified that a few conservative "boo-ers" have led to it being changed before I even get to see it. They may not like it- but many of us may do -so let's see more democracy. A younger audience or an audience wanting something less classical is not likely to be attracted to the ROH if the golden/rusted oldies dictate what is right or wrong...

  43. John Assirati responded on 1 July 2015 at 10:18pm Reply

    The management have declared that they are content to have the audience boo the production team at the end of the performance, presumably because they can safely ignore such a demonstration. But why wait 4 and a half hours when disapproval needs to be registered at particular times to show where the production team/director has gone wrong/given offence. I understand that many in the auditorium resent audience intrusion so perhaps dissenters should wait until the end of each act before voicing their disapproval.

  44. Bill Worley responded on 2 July 2015 at 9:45am Reply

    Another load of junk and the booing (which I would say was unanimous - at least it sounded like that from the Amphi) was totally justified. Without going into the pros and cons of the rape scene, what really annoys me is the amount of money that is spent on these productions (and this is one in a very long line) which will never be revived.

    I do agree with the critic who said heads should roll. Can we please start with Pappano (and he must share some of the responsibility for this junk) and Holten.

    I have sent my ticket for Cav/Pag back.

  45. Judith Blechner responded on 2 July 2015 at 11:31am Reply

    I was not present for the rape scene so cannot comment but surely the rest of the opera should have shown the oppression and it certainly did not. Frankly I laughed when the soldiers came out in Act 1 with their toy guns. Although the music might be wonderful the inane, frankly boring and badly directed first act with no glimpse of redeeming qualities ensured that I left at the first interval.

    Opera must move forward and we should not remain complacent and solely in the past but why oh why are we subjected to experimental, crass new productions. The MET have it right they manage to combine modernity with creativity and soul.

    One wonders whether Kaspar Holten has a remit to destroy all that the Royal Opera stands for. In the last year have found that nearly all the productions lack energy. What is happening??

  46. APH responded on 2 July 2015 at 12:00pm Reply

    Having not seen the production yet, I understand it repeats something that seems to have become commonplace at ROH in recent years. That is the public humiliation of young actresses (required to strip, to mime fellatio, etc.). Do directors think that it's OK because the are being paid??

  47. Mark Billinge responded on 2 July 2015 at 1:43pm Reply

    Like many others I was seriously disturbed by the rape scene in particular - but not for the reasons the Director intended or those defending it probably imagine. I have been thinking about my reaction and trying to analyse why I found it so distasteful. Those trying to make comparisons - ie we've seen worse, or it wouldn't cause outrage on any other stage - make, I think, a fundamental mistake and weaken their argument by assuming that a rape scene is a rape scene in any context (oh it's just another rape scene yes I've seen that before and this one is marginally worse/better). Depicting such acts can only be sanctioned in context specific ways: did it need to be shown, did it add to our understanding, did it provoke in us to the right kind of thoughts and reactions. Perhaps because it seemed so gratuitously applied or because what had led up to this scene (a couple of dreary hours) was generally so poorly conceived, I have come to realise that my revulsion/sympathies were based not on my belief that a swiss peasant was being raped by an Austrian soldier but - so disengaged was I from the drama at this point - I simply felt that a poor actress was being paid to be stage raped by a bunch of chorus members. As someone else has remarked, the evening suddenly became about the actress not the character or the evil. In short there was no suspension of disbelief that caused me to identify with the drama: surely a fundamental failing in ANY theatre. I was simply one human being conscious that I was sitting in a theatre watching another human being being subjected to something in which I did not wish to be complicit. Had I been absorbed in the drama I might not have read it so literally or reacted so personally. Like many others I simply had no interest inTell thereafter. This was a final straw and I left the theatre at the end of the performance feeling diminished in a way I have never experienced before - in this or any other theatre. (I stayed until the end only so that I could express my feelings to the Director and his team.) It was a saddening evening and I hope not to find myself in a similar position again. I hope that even those who consider me a prude and a reactionary will regard this as an attempt at a thoughtful contribution.

  48. Giacomo responded on 2 July 2015 at 2:26pm Reply

    The least enjoyable evening I've had at the ROH and that is without the rape scene on which the press and so many others are focussing. I found it dull and muddled, a wedding, where? And so it went on. I dislike the use of projections, did the director think the overture was weak and uninteresting. Stage light frequently shone in the audience's eyes. I missed most of the controversial Act 3 scene as I had my eyes shut imagining ballet dancing but following the nude rape scene what are we to make of the children in underwear being bathed!?!

    So the director is trying to tell me "war is bad". Does the director think I don't know "war is bad" or that we are best informed that "war is bad" by sitting through three and a half hours of singing in French? Yes I know these things occur in real life does not mean we should pay to see them as entertainment. In fact presenting it as entertainment only trivialises the meaning and is an insult to those that have experienced true horror. Shame on Holten, Pappano, Beard and the ROH.

    Some of the people that objected to booing have worrying double standards, needless depiction of rape is entertainment but booing is unforgivable and discourteous. Before say you dislike booing and if you think that "art" should be real, upsetting, lively, thought provoking and challenging, well the booing gave you that - enjoy.

    The most shocking aspect of the production is that Mr Holten said he was surprised by the reaction. How desperately out of touch he is. Mr Holten says he is sorry but as no changes are to be made I think he is only sorry we don't all agree with him. Will the ROH please quantify the extent of the sorry by offering refunds?

  49. Steve Freeman responded on 3 July 2015 at 12:02am Reply

    The ROH had been doing so well recently that we have been slowly raising our membership level and moving down from the Amphitheatre. Now, as the Holten moves into ENO territory (and look how well that's worked for them), I think we'll be looking elsewhere. I'm hoping we'll outlive the Holten regime.

    And by the way, we're not against new style productions, we just expect better from the ROH.

  50. Kay Harrington responded on 3 July 2015 at 12:12am Reply

    If Mr Holten maintains his record, it won't be long before the most sought after tickets will be the Restricted View seats in the Upper Slips.

  51. Peter responded on 3 July 2015 at 12:54am Reply

    As I tweeted above (as Seneca) I loved this production. It was deeply shocking. The nudity was unexceptional on the London stage. The humiliation before the rape was one of the most powerful images I have seen in over 40 years of opera going. I did not take it literally although I suppose at some level it may have been intended as such. It seemed to be more about the rape of a country than a person. To the booers I labelled as "low brow" I feel I owe no apology. Baying at something one doesn't like is not a particularly intelligent action. Whatever the motivation it inevitably is going to attract opprobrium because it is simply destructive, It was like witnessing the opera (which is in part about the oppression of the weak by the powerful) being acted out by the audience. I also say low brow because judging by the comments here and elsewhere it looks like the great intellectual movements of the last 50 years have had no impact on the way they think about opera. Whilst ego must be involved in any person's decision to get involved in performing, the charge that directors simply set out solely to shock or to gratify their own ego seems naive to say the least. Opera always seems to be in crisis as it is a public place where a great range of contradictory expectations meet. Inevitably a lot of people are going to be upset.

  52. John GINMAN responded on 3 July 2015 at 6:56am Reply

    Having seen Guillaume Tell yesterday evening, I am mystified by the hostility and abuse that has been generated by this production. I have been watching work at Covent Garden since the late 1960s. During that time I have seen many productions that were so feeble they were frankly embarrassing. Recently I have seen a number of really poor, ill-conceived new productions - La Donna del lago and Idomeneo are top of my list.
    However, this production is one of the most exciting I have seen at Covent Garden in almost forty years. It is intelligent, imaginative and immediate. It treats the opera's political concerns with great seriousness. Some details are overstated: I felt that the fictional Tell made a couple of appearances too many; and I would scrap the distracting side-show during Tell's big aria. But the overall achievement is exceptional, and completely at one with the delivery of the music. One example of the director's great skill is his extraordinary work with the chorus, as individuals and collectively. This alone makes him a very exciting choice to work on Cav and Pag next season.
    So I urge waverers not to be discouraged by the hostile comments and to experience this for themselves. It is an extremely powerful realisation of a major work.

    • Jane Harrison responded on 4 July 2015 at 11:34pm

      Sadly thanks to a conservative and perhaps more elderly audience we now have a changed version... I despair.. it is refreshing to see thought provoking and perhaps at times shocking interpretations even if it gives some of the audience palpitations

  53. Simon Carbery responded on 3 July 2015 at 7:32am Reply

    I'm baffled by some of the responses to what I thought was a defensible creative choice, and surprisingly mildly done in the context of umpteen other recent live theatre productions, movies, and TV. I was more offended, to be honest, by the Opera House's 'parental guidance' announcement, which is either a craven sop to censorship (remember Mary Whitehouse and 'The Romans In Britain'?), or a cynical stirring of the 'shock-horror- pot to generate chatter.

  54. Rachel williams responded on 3 July 2015 at 10:04am Reply

    Simon I think the parental warning is to help those thinking of taking their ten year old children decide whether they want them to see sexual violence at an early age to add this option to their portfolio of lifestyle choices. Whether you like this production or not you can hardly claim offering people information so that they can make informed opinions offensive. Are you clear what that word means? On the first night there were children in the audience and several parents felt moved to take them out.

  55. David Edmond responded on 3 July 2015 at 10:30am Reply

    Went to last night's performance with a sense of gloom and thinking is this to be another bonkers production more to do with assorted ego trips from Producers/Designers/Directors ?
    To my relief; it all made sense, including the rape; which in the context of Political oppression and warfare is all too common.
    The entire cast worked their socks off and fully deserved the extended ovation at the end as did Sir A.P !

  56. Simon Carbery responded on 3 July 2015 at 12:10pm Reply

    Rachel, thanks for your response. Yes, I do know what 'offensive' means - I'm a professional writer. 'Offensive' is a subjective word. What's normal in these circumstances, in both live theatre and TV, is either the 9:00 o'clock watershed, or a single sentence warning. In this case it amounted to a wholly untypical 1000 word press release, and it's this disproportionality that worries me. As regards the children issue, 10 year olds don't habitually attend most 'adult' operas - especially very long ones likely to keep them up till midnight (I didn't notice a single child amongst the audience of 2,200 adults last night). However, if you do choose to take a 10 year old to any number of productions not specifically geared towards children, whether it's at the NT, Royal Court, Donmar, ENO or on TV (or in Covent Garden's own Rigoletto, for that matter) there's obviously a possibility that you'll encounter the occasional difficult theme, strong language, and more explicit nudity and violence than in this production. And I guarantee it won't be accompanied by an essay of self-justification.

  57. Ashley Allen responded on 3 July 2015 at 1:45pm Reply

    I have been going to ROH for the best part of 45 years and cannot believe that the powers to be at the House would have studied, considered, opted and paid for such a pompously ludicrous staging of one of Rossini's greatest operas. Dining tables and chairs in a sandpit, some "phantom" Robin Hood character carrying arrows with suckers on and soldiers with AK rifles raping and pillaging as they go. Absolute rubbish. Kasper Holten should be ashamed of himself and the sooner he goes the better as far as I am concerned. The quality of new productions at the ROH has plummeted downhill over the last few years since he arrived and here we have another prize turkey for the collection. The sooner it is roasted, carved up and eaten ..the better. My beloved Rossini would turn in his grave at the sight of this train wreck. A very disappointing evening. Congratulations ROH in the space of 4 even managed to destroy one of the greatest bel canto operas in the repertoire. You had better make sure that the forthcoming Cav & Pag does not end up with a similar fate.

  58. Rich2307 responded on 3 July 2015 at 1:46pm Reply

    I have been thinking a lot about what I saw on Monday evening. As soon as the curtain went up during the overture, my heart sank a little, but when I saw all the strip lights over the stage, I knew I was in for a poor evening at the opera. Strip lighting a show was old-fashioned 20 years ago! Sadly, it went downhill from there. I think I understood what the director was up to - I interpreted it as being Jemmy's dream. That, though, raises the question about how much worldly knowledge a prepubescent boy can be expected to have - even in a dream.
    As to the whole production, most it was clearly being presented using a lot of symbolism: the uprooted tree representing the uprooted people, for example. Why, then, did the rape in Act 3 have to be interpreted on a non-symbolic level, particularly when the poor woman had already been symbolically raped by Gesler's gun? Surely that was sufficient? The audience isn't stupid, so why treat them, for a short scene in a long evening, as if they are?

  59. Rachel williams responded on 3 July 2015 at 2:00pm Reply

    Simon thank you. I am not sure we are greatly at odds. I think the effort ROH are now putting into their warnings is a reflection of them coming to realise that they were remiss to begin with and so caught off guard. From memory the first night warned (and not on the website previously) of gunshot(s) nothing else.

    In 1977 I took my then 8 year old son to the Kleiber/Nilsson Elektra - an adult opera I think you will agree - he has been a fan ever since. Of course in those days there was little or no chance of anything visually shocking making it to the stage. My point is this: we need young audiences and we ought still to live in a world where we can take a younger person to almost any opera unless advised against it. All it needs is a short statement "unsuitable for minors" or some such. The default ought to be that unless otherwise warned it is safe to do so. This is not an argument against "experimentation" (forgive the shorthand) just advocacy for proper "labelling". It would inconvenience none and help many.

  60. Mike responded on 3 July 2015 at 10:25pm Reply

    As always at the ROH, absolutely beautiful singing, went home humming the tunes.
    But it all stops here. The production was absolutely stupid!!! You really had to know the plot beforehand to be able to follow anything, it was incoherent and plain ugly.
    I've said it before, I feel like I'd be better off buying a CD and staying at home. Unfortunately, there's nothing that can even begin to compare with live singing and nowhere else to go in England, so I keep getting my hopes up everytime there's a new, rare production, and keep buying tickets....

  61. Mike K responded on 4 July 2015 at 4:10pm Reply

    Sky News are reporting that in response to the fusillade of audience abuse, the production has been changed to minimise/draw a veil over the rape scene (if that's the right phrase). Is that true? I note, incidentally, that my longer email comments about opera management at the ROH, stimulated by this fiasco, have been "moderated" ie suppressed.

  62. Minoko Takanashi responded on 5 July 2015 at 2:31pm Reply

    The opening night was disturbing. The use of the video screen caused motion sickness, the movement of the singers did not make sense, and the toy soldiers were just an extra that made the stage ugly.

    The gang rape scene was terrible. After watching so much stripping on the stage, sometimes with blood all over, already I had lost the trust of the opera. I felt horrified to see the children being stripped to bathe. The latter half of the production was harassment of the audience.

    I am so upset with those scenes, I can not enjoy Rossini anymore.

    The director has the power to destroy the art of music, and he did that. Many operas are tragedy, with one or all of the main characters dying. Still we visit the theatre to watch opera repeatedly, as the operas are beautiful as art. This production of Guillaume Tell does not have the beauty that we expect from Rossini's music.

    The Royal Opera House should have put a warning that this production has disturbing scenes not suitable for the young and for sensitive persons.

    The people who come to the opera had better know that they might lose the joy of listening to Rossini.

  63. Brian Pickering responded on 5 July 2015 at 5:14pm Reply

    As for updating why didn't the Royal Opera update the score and the libretto while they were about it?

  64. wendy responded on 5 July 2015 at 7:46pm Reply

    Just went to my local cinema in Lorca to see this. The singing and the music were wonderful but I hated the production and left at the second interval. .

  65. Lawrence B responded on 5 July 2015 at 8:43pm Reply

    I thought this was a magnificent and powerful production leaving me in deep thought about the issues raised which were heightened by the wonderful music and singing. Booing is utterly unacceptable and such boors should stay away. Those sensitive soles who might be offended by a new production should refrain from attending until they have ascertained that it is acceptable to them; or just stay at home with a hot drink.

  66. elden responded on 5 July 2015 at 9:42pm Reply

    Was at the Sunday matinee. Hugely enthusiastic response, apparently unanimous, in the (full) house, so difficult to take all the earlier negative comments as representative. Disappointing that censorship by the booing mob appears to have prevailed. Sexual violence in war and occupation could not be more horrible or relevant to today, and a shocking portrayal could not possibly be gratuitous in this case, despite the widespread casual use of that description in other comments. I can't comment on the original as I was not allowed to see it, but the "tweaked" version has little dramatic effect., and the juxtaposition of comic book depictions with the appalling realities of war seems to have been lost.. Many wonderful elements in the performance and, after a slow start post-overture, the production (including a fantastic tree, almost as good as King Roger's head) and as always some things to question (not least the kids undressing at the end, which really did seem uncomfortably gratuitous.) But don't create this sort of mess again.

  67. Ekaterina N responded on 5 July 2015 at 11:38pm Reply

    Was at the Sunday matinee too but should note that enthusiastic response was not necessarily for the production but for wonderful singers and chorus. I found the production boring but applauded the singers -- particularly Gerald Finley and the superb chorus.
    The sight of children being undressed on stage was quite uncomfortable.

  68. James Gordon responded on 6 July 2015 at 6:55am Reply

    I only saw the cinema relay yesterday – but what an achievement!

    Perhaps unexpectedly, Wagner held Guillaume Tell in high esteem, which should warn us to expect something other than frothy entertainment. Michieletto’s production is intelligent, coherent, imaginative, at times disturbing. It maintains (or creates) dramatic tension throughout, even in the long chorus/dance sequences which are too good to cut but can seem irrelevant to the action. I doubt there has ever before been a performance of this work that never seemed to drag. Chorus and orchestra are at the top of their game. The ROH chorus has never been better than this as a dramatic protagonist, rather than the scenic prop that is often all that it is required to be.

    Tell’s weakness is that its two star roles, Mathilde and Arnold, could be excised from the score with minimal loss to the main plot. Indeed, we would be left with a leaner, darker, more tightly focussed drama, not unlike the original Boris before the Polish act and attendant love interest were added. Michieletto almost succeeds in making three-dimensional characters of the tenor and soprano. John Osborn impressed far more here than in the concert performance at last year’s Edinburgh Festival , better vocally (although sounding tired at times amid the ludicrous pyrotechnics of the final act) as well as dramatically. Both he and Malin Byström are as good as anyone is likely to be in these roles.

    Tell himself can too easily be sidelined by tenor and soprano showboating , but not in this production. Paradoxically, the character of Tell is strengthened, not diminished, by Michieletto’s focussing so much on the chorus. Gerald Finley becomes their reluctant mouthpiece, like a Greek actor stepping forth from the chorus, and he has the gravitas to play the part.

    Sofia Fomina does the most believable trouser role I have ever seen or heard. Not just because she’s in androgynous modern dress instead of the usual, tight-fitting, eighteenth-century get-up. She actually acts like a boy. Most of the time (and she is on the stage a lot), I forgot I was watching a woman. I remembered her as a vocal outstanding stand-in Isabelle in Robert le Diable; she can act too.

    I find it worrying that this production has been so controversial. Nudity on the stage is hardly something new, nor is the message that war dehumanises people. The production updates the action, at times reimagines it, but remains faithful to the libretto. Rossini’s villagers are villagers, his soldiers are soldiers. For a really contemporary take, you could go much further. Almost contemporary with Tell, Byron “dreamed that Greece might still be free.” Why not set the action there, now, with the “allemands” (never “autrichiens” in the libretto) as European central bankers waving fistfuls of Euros and credit notes instead of all-too-predictable machine guns? There would of course be a nice, post-modern irony that the victims of (financial) oppression are repeatedly referred to as “suisses”…

    Never mind the sexual violence and semi-nudity in Act 3; the really shocking scene in this production is the oath on the Rütli. Everyone knows (or should know, and maybe needs to be reminded) that war entails war crimes. The more disturbing message is that it dehumanises not only the oppressors, but the oppressed too. The self-mutilating men have sunk (or been dragged down) to the level of the soldier-rapists they oppose, if only because they see no alternative. There is even a hint of crimes against the environment as well as crimes against humanity – “Let every man hew himself a bough…”

    The transcendent final minutes of Tell are among the most radiant in all opera, a match for the end of Freischütz if not for Fidelio, Meistersinger or Parsifal. But can it really be so easy? Can these war-abused women really heal the inner wounds of these self-abused men? Or will the newly planted sapling one day be another mighty fallen oak, with another ordinary man of another generation forced reluctantly to don the cape of a comic-strip superhero? Is the ending teleological or cyclical, or both? No wonder Wagner called this “music for all times”.

  69. Jane responded on 6 July 2015 at 10:16am Reply

    The Sunday Matinee performance was well received. The Orchestra was wonderful, the singing was excellent and the audience responded to that.

    Pity about the production though. I don't think the concept of a population brutally treated by an occupying force had been thought through carefully enough. In this context I don't think the rape scene is incongruous and it's no worse than the Ballet scene in Faust or some of what goes on in the current production of Rigoletto. But the music at that point is joyful. Rape? Joyful? Why didn't the action reflect the score?

    The historical Tell, got boring quickly, he had no purpose. Was he fighting with the modern Tell in the last scene? Why? Why did Jemmy keep wandering round with the sword? Why did the freedom fighters have a long chorus about getting arms to fight the oppressor and then give the arms back?

    I hated the beautiful Aria between Tell and Jemmy being upstaged by having the dining table laid, doesn't the director trust the music?

    The back lighting meant you couldn't read the surtitles and much of the action was invisible to anyone not sitting directly in front of the stage because it was at the side of the set. The point in which Tell shoots at the apple was hidden from people on the left hand side of the auditorium and the bit where they are using the Melcthal as target practice was hidden from the people on the right hand side. The screen on which the pictures were projected meant that the action on stage was hidden from people sitting in the amphitheatre. Don't directors consider this sort of thing?

    I was also very disturbed when the children were stripped on stage in the final scene. I felt it was really unacceptable in the current climate of sensitivity about child abuse. It had no dramatic purpose.

    Not a production I will want to see again, which is sad because some of the music is beautiful.

  70. John Assirati responded on 6 July 2015 at 12:33pm Reply

    I have recently watched a dvd of the La Scala production of William Tell in Italian conducted by Muti - a traditional production.
    I found it thought provoking that the Swiss huntsmen sing that there is nothing finer in life than enjoying the dying gasps of chamoix. Real dead deer are paraded on stage.
    My point is that we need to understand how people thought in the past (including 19th century librettists) and that I find this more challenging than glib generalisations about modern times.

  71. Jim peters responded on 6 July 2015 at 12:58pm Reply

    Very powerful production. Politically charged and currently highly apposite. Possibly a little too real for some people, but conflict and its further manifestation need to be promulgated widely. The acting was superlative, as was indeed the singing and orchestra. A brilliant performance.

  72. Roy Hiscock responded on 6 July 2015 at 1:01pm Reply

    I saw this yesterday (05/07/2015) at the ROH
    1. This opera hasn't been performed at the ROH since 1992, so why was it not complete? Yes, yes, I know Rossini's alleged remark when told that Act 2 was performed: I also know Kobbe's comment. But come on - we don't get to see it very often(!!), so why the cuts when it is mounted?
    2. Whether because of my restricted view lower slip seat, or because of the modifications made in the stage direction, or a combination of the two, THAT SCENE did not seem to be dramatically wrong or so graphic as to make me feel prurient for, or nauseous while, watching it (most of the ballet music had been cut - was this part of the modification?); nor was the bathing of the children especially offensive (I found it merely a total irrelevance)
    3. The story is simple - it is about a brutal occupation by one country of another and the national liberation struggle of the latter. Basically, the production followed this simple idea, with some good points - the "hearts-and-minds" (or should that be Guns-'n'-Roses) operation of the soldiers with the local children at the beginning of Act 2. Even forces of occupation are not 100% evil 100% of the time and a good way of quelling the locals is by friendly (though on sufferance) attitude to "the kids". Unfortunately, what we also got - from the overture onward (why do stage directors not trust audiences to be able to listen to music? - is Rossini such a bad composer?) we also got that Classic Comic character of Tell wandering around. Was the director afraid of simple ideas? True, this is hardly original, but need not have been any less effective for that. National liberation can be powerful and very progressive - ask Messrs Tsipras and Varoufakis. By trying so desperately to be "original" the director has put an arrow through his own foot.
    4. As for the performance, I can only echo what the majority of your correspondents have said - an excellent musical experience. Would it be possible for the ROH to cancel whatever they're doing next 29 February (Rossini's 54th birthday) and put on a complete performance of the work?

  73. David O'Brien responded on 6 July 2015 at 1:14pm Reply

    In the land of Shakespeare we are used to re-interpreting old and challenging texts. What we were given here was incompetent. The video screen was lowered so that anyone sitting above the Grand Circle could not have seen the action behind. Did the director not check the sightlines from the Balcony let alone the amphitheatre? TELL's great aria SOIS IMMOBILE was sung in the dark. a bright light instead on a table. How are we meant to be involved with a production when teh lighting keeps everything in teh dark or silhoutte?

  74. Rupert responded on 6 July 2015 at 1:59pm Reply

    Oh! So it was a tree! I thought it was a log and symbolic of what Mr Micheletto was dumping on us.

  75. Jan Leigh responded on 6 July 2015 at 2:40pm Reply

    "Making a rod for your own back" comes to mind. You will never please even half of the audience a quarter of the time. Just note the comments but please, please never change a scene in that way again. The slippery slope to censorship.

  76. Marie Louise Dreux responded on 7 July 2015 at 11:26am Reply

    I was also at the Sunday performance, and while neither I or my companions booed, we were all profoundly disappointed by the awful production. Musically the performance was magnificent, but visually it was ghastly, static and dull, with the director requiring "shock tactics" to provide drama, which is inherent in the music, but was ignored by Mr Michieletto. The complete lack of contrast within the drama, even during the final hymn to freedom, robbed the production of any nuance whatsoever. This final scene was only salvaged by the magnificence of the chorus and orchestra, but visually it was absolutely nothing. Mr Michieletto also seems somewhat obsessed with having his performers disrobee, whether it makes sense or not. The infamous rape scene I found distressing enough to make me shut my eyes. It went on so long, it came across more as a vehicle for some rape fantasy on the part of our intrepidly sordid producer. One of my friends said if she'd been at the end of the row, she would have left the theatre.
    My partner and I travelled from Switzerland to see Guillaume Tell, hoping for the ROH to do it proud. Another friend travelled from Vienna. This is a lot of money and effort to expend on something I was hoping would be inspirational, but instead wallowed in the mud spread all about the stage. I will seriously be reconsidering further attendance at the ROH if this is all they can serve us.
    By the way, we saw a wonderful, contemporary production, of I Capuleti e I Montecchi in Zurich the week previously. We also saw a tremendous play whilst in London, All the Angels, about the writing of Messiah, and a tribute to the uplifting power of music. The ROH management could do worse than see it, and rediscover the nourishment for the soul that music can provide, for they seem to be bereft of any artistic or aesthetic consideration.

  77. Tony Boyd-Williams responded on 8 July 2015 at 3:44pm Reply

    Writing as one who has been following and researching productions of opera since the 1950's,I should like to comment that my wife and I thought Sunday afternoon's performance was artistically, musically and dramatically a total triumph for the staging of opera and a fantastic experience. Signor Michieletto is a genius and we are indeed fortunate to be able to experience his talents at work.
    I shall shortly be explaining these views in more detail in the blog Guillaume Tell. Join the conversation.

  78. John M. responded on 8 July 2015 at 10:18pm Reply

    D'où nait ce désespoir? asks Mathilde at the start of Act 3. If she had been sitting out front for the first two acts she would not have needed to ask. Oh dear, another much hyped poor production. A staging riddled with worn out clichés and ideas that went nowhere. Mr Holten says he wants to challenge us; well, go on then, challenge us but please do not serve up such a mess of a dog's dinner. We are not stupid, we do know what goes on in the world and in war so there is no need to hit us over the head with a shovel to make it go in. Some of the ideas and symbolism were almost impenetrable and that leads to disengagement, not involvement. How sad to lose another opportunity to re-evaluate a work that is not often performed. The list is long: Rusalka, Robert le diable, Nabucco, Manon Lescaut, Idomeneo, La Donna del lago, Maria Stuarda and then the mediocre stagings of Evgeny Onegin, Don Giovanni, Parsifal, Les vêpres siciliennes, I due Foscari, Un ballo in maschera. It does look like the RO is losing its way as far as directors go, presenting stagings which frequently fall below the standard one should expect from a world stage. Musically, things were of a high standard on Sunday. The orchestra played beautifully and the singing was frequently stunning. The music deserved a better framework. So, guns means war and bathing children in their underwear means something else.

    • David-G responded on 9 July 2015 at 2:22pm

      Mediocre? Evgeny Onegin, Idomeneo and Don Giovanni were catastrophes.

  79. Stephen Ratcliffe responded on 9 July 2015 at 9:27am Reply

    Was there last night. Production was mainly pants especially in act 1 but quite liked the scenery in the later acts. The rape scene was overdone - audiences are not stupid, the point could have been made less offensively. Music was great and better sung than the proms performance of a couple of years ago. Shame Tony Pappano was booed - he is a fine music director.

  80. Jane Harrison responded on 9 July 2015 at 3:21pm Reply

    I saw this performance last night (Weds). It is the best opera I have seen at the ROH and anywhere in the world and congrats to all involved in putting on such a stunning performance. It is creative , thought provoking and pulsating, the acting is incredible.The music was fantastic but the drama and interpretation were even evoked all aspects of war - the violence, cruelty, murder, rapes and heroic acts. It reflected perfectly the atrocities of Srebenica and of Gaza and so many other places. No boos just much applause and standing ovations last night- what it rightly deserves. I am now planning to see it a 2nd time- it was THAT good.

    • David-G responded on 9 July 2015 at 4:38pm

      There was significant booing after the rape scene last night, in the pause between scenes. I did not notice a standing ovation.

  81. David-G responded on 9 July 2015 at 4:56pm Reply

    I went last night. I love "Guillaume Tell" deeply, and have been waiting years to see it at Covent Garden, but to say that this was a disappointment would be an understatement. I found it monotonous, dramatically inept, infantile, and deeply boring. A mood of depression settled on me which made me unable to enjoy or appreciate any of the superlative musical performance. I went home profoundly depressed and feeling that the whole evening had been a waste of everybody's time.

    • Graham Thomas responded on 9 July 2015 at 8:11pm

      Totally agree - you could feel the audience's spirits sinking as soon as it began..

  82. Graham Thomas responded on 9 July 2015 at 8:15pm Reply

    think this is probably one of the worst productions I have ever seen at ROH.

    So much excessive "dramatisation" that it was very hard to concentrate on the music and singing.

    Banal and tedious direction with ugly cluttered sets and bad lighting which actively obscured the singers at times.

    The acting apart from a couple of exceptions was uniformly horrible - there is no point in making people do things they are clearly not comfortable with and the frenetic activity (thinking particularly of the omnipresent Jemmy) added nothing to the evening.

    The one saving grace was Gerald Finley as Tell - he seemed the only person on stage who actually had a handle on his character and acted within his abilities - having said that the excruciating scenes in which he is manhandled by the spirit of Switzerland were dire. His singing in the face of all the rubbish going on around him was doubly wonderful.

    The rape scene was as distasteful as I expected, adding nothing to the whole other than cooling the audience involvement to a new low.

    I don't want ROH to simply keep trotting out the same old productions but at the same time its very hard as an opera fan to watch something that actually detracts from the beauty of the music and singing and adds NOTHING to the experience.

  83. B.Pernon responded on 9 July 2015 at 11:07pm Reply

    It took great determination to seat through this appalling opera. All the way through I wondered whether it was kitsch or vulgar, only to conclude that it was both. I am a great opera goer and sadly feel that if it had been my first opera, it would put me off going to opera forever

  84. Tony Boyd-Williams responded on 10 July 2015 at 2:24pm Reply

    As indicated above, I have been following and researching opera since the 1950's and if this brilliant production of Guillaume Tell had been MY first opera, I would be hooked on opera for life.
    Again, ,each to their own it would seem but I did not consider Kasper Holten's productions of Eugene Onegin and Don Giovanni to be catastrophes but excitingly fresh and original..Like Damiano Michieleto, Mr Holten is a genius and the enthusiastic performances I have experienced bear witness to this,

  85. John Harington Hawes responded on 11 July 2015 at 12:29pm Reply

    I am exceedingly fond of opera but I have become increasingly fed up with productions that have no relevance to the original plot or the music. Also, as one has to watch the stage for between two and three hours it is also reasonable to hope for something worth looking at, otherwise one might just as well listen to the radio or buy CDs. That is what I am doing more often rather than buying tickets for a live production.
    We need more John Copleys.

  86. Maria Maher responded on 11 July 2015 at 1:39pm Reply

    I went to see Guillaume Tell twice (5 and 10 July). I find it disheartening that so many comments and reviews are all about the production. The music was breathtaking, Pappano conducted with such ease and the singers.... what an outstanding cast all round. [I think Gerald Finley has just replace Peter Mattei as my favourite baritone :-) ]; John Osborn was a delight to discover and although I've seen Brystom in other productions and didn't think that much of her, her performance in Guillaume Tell has caused me to revise my opinion - I thought she was wonderful. Wonderful performances also by Sofia Fomina, Eric Halfvarson and bravo to Samuel Dale Johnson (another Jetter Parker young artist from whom we will see great things in future!).

    With regard to the production, while I found it a bit dreary and silly sometimes (.e.g. the children being bathed or John Osborn cradling the mass of guns), I did not find it gratuitous. I thought better of it the second time round, as I think I missed some of the symbolism the first time. Overall, I think the production challenged me and made me reflect on what this opera is about. Bravo to Kasper Holten for not backing down, as I think the criticisms are out of proportion given the story of the opera.

    Note to Pappano - years ago I saw Willem Christie conduct a Rameau opera at Paris Garnier. It was a dreadful production and the audience started booing. At which point Christie put down the baton and turned to the audience and gave them a right telling off. He told them there was nothing wrong with the singing and it was disrespectful of the singers, and if they disapproved of the production, they should reserve their opinion for the end. The audience settled down, the music was wonderful, and at the end, when the production team came on, the audience gave it a much deserved round of very very loud booing, throughly enjoying themselves in displaying their displeasure.

  87. Robin Worth responded on 12 July 2015 at 6:57pm Reply

    We were at the second night. Musically excellent, rotten production No-one booed (the production had been toned down) but you felt that the audience were restless at some of the silly antics on stage or screen and that these detracted from some excellent singing.

    Coming after a series of dire productions (Ballo, Idomeneo, Parsifal and more) you have to ask what is wrong with Holten and his regime Today, July 12, there are over 200 seats unsold for each of the last two performances of Tell. What does this say about the ROH?

    • Stephen Diviani responded on 15 July 2015 at 5:12pm

      The house was full for last night's performance. And the cast, chorus, orchestra & conductor were cheered to the rafters at the curtain calls.

  88. stuart responded on 12 July 2015 at 11:31pm Reply

    This was quite simply one of the best interpretations I've ever seen. Although I didn't love every directorial choice I never thought it was gratuitous and was completely justified. I have never been more uncomfortable in a theatre than during the rape scene but this is why it worked. The sweet music was a juxtaposition but at the same time reflected the enjoy of the perpetrators.

    To all who booed during the performance, go away - opera doesn't need you as fans. Boo afterward if you feel you have to but not while people are performing, how disrespectful would you like to be.

  89. Guillaume Tell responded on 14 July 2015 at 9:13am Reply

    The Royal Opera House’s recent production of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell may have been eagerly expected by opera aficionados all over the country, but instead of a great production of a rarely heard opera by one of the genre’s greatest masters, what we got was unfortunately a rather indigestible and vulgar turkey stuffed with more operatic kitsch than you can shake a stick at. This is a great shame because Rossini’s masterpiece certainly deserves to be seen and heard in all its glory. What could have been the start of a revival of this wonderful opera has for most of us instead turned out to be a big disappointment. The Royal Opera House had a great chance on its hand, but spoilt it completely by hiring the Italian director Damiano Michieletto, who proved to be well and truly out of his depth with this material. Not only did he fail to engage with his lazy and cliché-ridden directorial style, but he also managed to alienate a substantial majority of the audience at the ROH. It’s hard to tell what Michieletto was trying to accomplish with his mishmash of half-baked ides and hackneyed dramaturgical platitudes, but it can safely be said that he was nowhere near creating a performance that was worthy of the excellent libretto and Rossini’s fabulous music.

    I attended the performance given on the 8th of July, and to me the director’s incompetence was palpable right from the start. The whole spectacle amounted to nothing more than a pitiful declaration of creative bankruptcy, and the worst example of this was the now infamous ‘rape’ scene in the third act. This must have been watered down quite considerably since the premiere, but it still came across as ugly, stupid and hopelessly banal. This was directorial macho-posturing at its worst, completely lacking in integrity and artistic justification. The ROH management have tried to defend the inclusion of this sordid scene by claiming that ‘this is what happens in war’, but whether it does or not is really a moot point, because nowhere in Rossini’s opera does anything even remotely like that take place. What is supposed to happen at this point in the opera is that the Austrian commander-in-chief Gessler orders the Swiss to dance in order to celebrate the glories and victories of the Austrians. At the time this opera had its premiere in 1829 it was common practice to incorporate ballet sequences in operas, so Rossini’s intention here was clearly a ballet intermezzo, as he obviously wrote music appropriate for this. As an accompaniment to a defenceless woman being mercilessly humiliated by a gang of brutal soldiers Rossini’s music doesn’t fit at all, but he didn’t write the music for such a scenario; he wrote music suitable for a traditional ballet, so this whole scene was totally unjustified and grotesquely inappropriate. Not only that, it degraded Rossini’s excellent music and dragged it down to a primitive and ugly level, and turned it all into cheap and nasty entertainment.

    It’s worth spending some time on this because it highlights one of the main problems with this train-wreck of a production, namely the glaring, painful and sometimes embarrassing disconnect between the music itself and what was happening on stage. This started already during the overture, when a giant video screen was lowered to display some jerky out-of-focus images of toy soldiers on a table. This was not only totally inappropriate but also hugely distracting. Another example was the confusing use of video during the stormy crossing of the lake in act 4. Displaying disjointed bits of cartoon imagery to express the drama of this section of the opera was nothing short of laughable and so completely ridiculous that it was impossible to take it seriously. This and virtually everything that was happening on stage throughout the performance smacked of directorial laziness and a distinctive lack of creative inspiration. It was as if Michieletto almost had given up before even starting on the admittedly challenging task of staging this opera. You know something is seriously amiss when soldiers in black uniforms, looking distinctly late 20th century or early 21st, turn up with submachine guns in a drama which is supposedly set in the 13th century, especially so when earlier in the opera it was all bows and arrows.

    So was this a complete waste of time and money? No, it wasn’t, but that’s only because Rossini’s music is still great, and came across as such in spite of a clumsy, ugly and dull production. The only thing that saved the evening from being an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions was that the musical performance was excellent from start to finish. Antonio Pappano conducted the Royal Opera House orchestra who played very well throughout, and the ROH chorus were also quite outstanding. The three main characters of the opera, Guillaume Tell, Arnold Melcthal and Mathilde, were all wonderfully sung and acted by Gerald Finley, John Osborne and Malin Byström. I was especially impressed by Gerald Finley, and his aria in act 3 just before the apple-shooting incident was one of the highlights. There were many musical highlights though, not the least Mathilde’s entrance aria, beautifully sung by Malin Byström and the very difficult aria for Arnold at the beginning of act 4, sung by John Osborne in a way that made it sound almost easy. Other memorable moments were the duet between Tell and Arnold in act 1 and the duet between Mathilde and Arnold in act 2. The lesser roles were also well performed, although Sofia Fomina’s Jemmy wasn’t quite as distinctive as I had expected and Enkelejda Shkosa’s mezzo in the role of Hedwige was maybe a touch too rich and meaty for my taste. These are only minor matters though, and the only real problem as far as the musical performance was concerned was that the sound of the singers’ voices seemed to ‘drown’ or fade somewhat at times. It has been suggested that this was due to the thick layer of ‘rubber soil’ that covered the entire stage and this would undoubtedly have absorbed some of the sound.

    It is doubtful that this abysmally bad production will ever be revived at the ROH, but even so it might not be forgotten as easily as it deserves. Unfortunately that is likely to be for all the wrong reasons.

  90. David-G responded on 15 July 2015 at 12:54am Reply

    As I wrote above, when I saw "Tell" last week I went home profoundly depressed and alienated by the production, and feeling that the whole evening had been a waste of everybody's time. I went again this evening, but this time wore a blindfold so that I could see nothing at all of this ghastly production. Transformation!! With my ears, and without using my eyes, I could now appreciate the marvellous conducting and superb singing, and the towering glory of Rossini's music. I highly recommend anyone going to the final performance to do the same.

  91. John Rose responded on 15 July 2015 at 9:19am Reply

    I agree with the above "essay" almost word for word. The musical performance last night (14 July) was quite superlative. So much has been written about "that scene" in Act 3 that I have nothing to add.
    But having the pastoral section of the overture ruined by the visual projections (quite inappropriate) was musical vandalism. Surely Sir Tony should have put his foot down there and said "NO!".
    My only other point is that,from my usual perch high up in the slips on Ampitheatre Left,I missed the sheer impact of trumpet/trombones because of the re-seating plan of the orchestra.
    But,despite the strange mismatch of a production,mixing gritty realism with symbol/metaphor,this was a riveting evening:fabulous value for £13....provided you have a strong back and can lean forward for four hours or so.!

  92. Stephen Diviani responded on 15 July 2015 at 11:34am Reply

    Saw the production last night. To tell you the truth, I wasn't very keen on the opera; and wouldn't want to sit through it again - that is nothing to do with the production, but to do with Rossini and his librettists - all four of them. I'm baffled as to why there has been so much hostility towards the staging. Okay, some of the ideas were a bit clunky, like the 'Historic William Tell'; not a bad idea in itself - it reminded me of a recent ROH staging of 'La donna del lago', in exploring how myths & legendary figures are historically situated, constructed and used - but ultimately, dramatically, it came across as slightly comic. As to 'that scene'. What to say? The only disgrace is the negative response from some of the audience. Hello? It's an opera about the oppression of a people by an occupying force, which uses murder, torture and rape as a means to an end, and of how the oppressed defeat the occupiers and, driven by their love of freedom & national identity, re-claim their independence. Ring any bells? The 'rape' was entirely appropriate in the context. The people who behaved so shamefully at the first performance really do need their bottoms smacking.

  93. Guillaume Tell responded on 16 July 2015 at 9:44am Reply

    After seeing this production of Guillaume Tell I have been thinking that it would be really wonderful if also in the world of opera an 'authentic performance' movement would start to gain some ground. This is a tradition that is now very firmly established in the area of concert music in all repertory at least up until the early 19th century, but as far as I know nothing like this has happened in the operatic tradition, or at least not on the same scale. This is much needed given the fashion amongst directors and opera chiefs in recent years for experimental productions of classic operas, with all their talk of making opera 'relevant' to modern audiences and creating 'contemporary' versions of the classic repertory. In my view this is only rarely successful, and really not needed considering the fact that lots of the great operatic works of the last 400 years have survived and are still being performed after all these years, which should prove once and for all that they are in fact universally relevant and as 'contemporary' as anything that any composer could ever manage to come up with in the 21st century.

  94. Stephen Seago responded on 17 July 2015 at 11:48pm Reply

    I was surprised and disappointed that there was booing after the so-called rape scene even on the last night. Who on Earth was booing and why? Did they come with the intention of causing a disturbance? After all, it's not as if they hadn't been warned. Or was it, in fact, engineered by the ROH, hoping for a succes de scandale and trying to live up to all the publicity?

    • Charles Blom responded on 21 July 2015 at 11:23pm

      I booed and not because the ROH asked me to. It was rape used for entertainment. Rape turned into a ballet. This is crossing a line which should not be crossed.
      Charles Blom, The Netherlands.

  95. Altdorfer responded on 20 July 2015 at 1:49pm Reply

    I attended the last performance on 17th July.

    It seems a part of the public really wanted to interrupt the performance on Act III which was unacceptable.
    Of course, people are free to indicate if they are not happy but not during the performance. It is a lack of respect for all the artists and for the public.

    Good performance of Finely (excellent French diction) and Osborn (but clearly too cautious on Act I which has implied the first duo with Tell was not a great moment). Byström is a good singer, I had the feeling her voice has become heavier but unfortunately she has not the voice required for Mathilde. Wrong pick.
    Catastrophic performance of the fisher Rudi.

  96. Tony Boyd-Williams responded on 20 July 2015 at 2:42pm Reply

    As I have suggested in the blog Guillaume Tell.-join the conversation, I think you will find that if you total the performances of this operatic triumph ,you will find that the "bravos /bravas " vastly outnumber the boos.
    Thank you again ROH .Looking forward to the DVD and eventual news of a revival.

  97. Noel Patrick responded on 28 July 2015 at 9:56am Reply

    I attended the final performance of William Tell and can say that I enjoyed the music tremendously. Bravo to Maestro Pappano and the Orchestra of The Royal Opera House. The principal soloist were all on good form, well supported by the chorus. Especially praiseworthy were John Osborn and the truly wonderful Malin Bystrom, who alone, was worth the journey from Northern Ireland.
    The controversial scene had been amended, and nothing was actually seen from the stalls. The few who booed for a few seconds, appeared to have staged their inappropriate intervention. It certainly wasn't relevant at the time, and 99 per cent of those present didn't approve of their intervention. That said, I positive Rossini would be spinning in his grave at the very thought of such a thing taking place under the guise of his opera. It should be obvious that great practice and effort has gone into every aspect of the performance, and booing is very offensive and discourteous.
    The stage set was disappointing, the modern clothing and weapons not in keeping with this historical tale. Unfortunately Gerald Finley was given a no win acting part, William Tell instead of being the heroic deliverer of the Swiss, was reduced to a reluctant pressed upon anti-hero, victorious by chance. The spirit of Swiss resistance, the only character in period costume, left most people in the audience bewildered as to who he was, and his purpose in the story.
    I am aware that the costs of presenting an Opera are high, and that money has to be taken into consideration; however a historical staging can be achieved without bankrupting the company. The Metropolitan Opera's 'Maria Stuarda' is a fine example which The Royal Opera House could emulate. All in all the Royal Opera House is musically 'up there' with the best in the world, but if you want to sell these productions on DVD you need to return to a more traditional form of presentation. Please take note! That said best wishes to all at The ROH for your ongoing work.

  98. John Twinam responded on 9 August 2015 at 12:43am Reply

    Truly an astonishing production, with an amazing set that paid off thrillingly at the end, and bravura performances from all the singers. I'm just disappointed that I didn't get to see the director's true vision because of some pearl-clutchers who rate their Traviatas according to the number of candelabras present on stage.

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