Opera Scotland

William Tell 2014Teatro Regio, Turin

Read more about the opera Guillaume Tell

A fascinating strand of music in the Edinburgh Festival during the past few years has been the series of concert performances of four rare Rossini operas, interrupted by a fully-staged production of Semiramide in 2011. How appropriate, then, to follow that with a concert performance of Rossini's final stage work and grandest of all, William Tell. This work may no longer be the rarity it once was - it has been seen at Covent Garden in recent years, and Antonio Pappano conducted a concert performance with his own Italian forces at the London Proms a couple of years ago. But in Scotland performances have been rare, the province of the larger amateur groups in the central belt. It has also been staged at Haddo in Aberdeenshire.

Gianandrea Noseda trained in Russia, has worked for many years with the BBC Philharmonic in Manchester, and has appeared at the New York Met. He is not yet a familiar face in Scotland, and his Turin opera company has not previously appeared in Edinburgh. Both were welcome, and the standard of overall performance leads to the hope that next time they may bring fully-staged operatic work to the Festival.

The fact that the performers were Italian led to a performance in that language, rather than the original French. In what was very much a presentation for the concert platform, few concessions were made to the operatic origin of the work. No surtitles were on offer and members of the audience tried to follow the plot of this long opera in the traditional way, by reading their programmes. With limited attempt at acting, singers stood and sang in traditional evening garb, allowing us to focus on the music.

The most notable soloists were, in fact, American. John Osborn has become known for his interpretation of this very difficult role recently. While he was certainly able to launch the famous high notes in effective full voice, it was even more pleasing to hear the subtlety with which he sang the quiet passages earlier on. The young soprano Angela Meade, not originally listed in the cast, may be remembered from the cinema relay of the New York Met Ernani, in which she impressed a year or two ago. She launched her opening aria with a wealth of seamless legato phrasing that was quite beautiful, and continued on impressive form throughout the evening.

The opera needs several good basses, and it was a treat to hear again the dark tones of Mirco Palazzi as Walter (sorry Gualtiero), while Luca Tittoto succeeded in making Gessler into a fully three-dimensional character, not just a cardboard villain. The title role needs a good baritone able to dominate the stage. While Dalibor Jenis can certainly sing in that way, he perhaps suffered more than the others from the concert format, being perhaps a little bit too passive. The other women were both excellent - a dramatic mezzo as Tell's wife, and a sweet-toned light soprano as their son.

This fine performance suggested the current standards achieved at the Turin house under Noseda's guidance must be high indeed.

Performance Cast

Guillaume Tell

Dalibor Jenis

Hedwige Tell's wife

Anna Maria Chiuri

Jemmy Tell's son

Marina Bucciarelli

Arnold Melcthal's son

John Osborn

Melcthal a Swiss Patriarch

Fabrizio Beggi

Gesler Austrian governor of Schwitz and Uri

Luca Tittoto

Mathilde a Habsburg princess, Gesler's sister

Angela Meade

Rodolphe captain in Gessler's guard

Luca Casalin

Walter Furst

Mirco Palazzi

Leuthold an old shepherd

Paolo Orecchia

Ruodi a fisherman

Mikeldi Atxalandabaso

Performance DatesWilliam Tell 2014

Map List

Usher Hall | Edinburgh

26 Aug, 18.30

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