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Operatic Tell

The Tell myth, hijacked by the Jacobins in France and reinterpreted by Schiller, also inspired the Italian composer, Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868).

The music and plot of “William Tell”, Rossini’s last great work, speak of a struggle for freedom which belongs entirely to the Italian Risorgimento. There is a blatant link in the text between the Habsburgs of medieval Switzerland and their descendants who occupy 19th century Italy.

After the initial lukewarm applause which greeted the premiere in Paris, it became a great success. With his effervescent music, which conveys the drama without relying on words, Rossini transformed William Tell into a pan-European work.

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