For me it is difficult to decide between Il Barbiere Di Siviglia and William Tell as Rossini's masterpiece. I love them both equally, Barbiere is so charming and a lot of fun while in William Tell's case I don't think Rossini has written a more gorgeous aria in Sois Immobile/Resta Immobile.
Of the two William Tells I've seen, this is the better of the two in my view. The other one was the late 80s La Scala performance with Zancanaro, Studer and Merritt. That was wonderful musically and had a great cast, but the production values and staging left a lot to be desired. I also recommend two recordings, one in the French form and one in Italian, one is the Bacquier, Gedda and Caballe recording and the other and this is my favourite the one with Milnes, Pavarotti and Freni.
Visually, this production is well above average. The costumes are interesting, especially Mathilde's and the sets are also good. The picture quality is clear mostly if slightly blurred in O Mathilde, the camera work is focused and the sound serves the music and voices well. I adore Rossini's music and always have done. The orchestra do an excellent job with the score, with the Overture wonderfully energetic complete with a very impressive cello solo and nicely understated in Sois Immobile, and the conducting is precise and has authority.
The performances are very good. Thomas Hampson is a splendid Tell, sympathetic and heroic with a love of his family and country. The voice is perhaps a tad too light and too much of a high baritone timbre, but he does sing very musically and is in character throughout. While I still think Sherrill Milnes is the best singer of the aria, Sois Immobile is sung beautifully.
In support I was most impressed with Hasmik Papian as Mathilde, the acting is sincere and the voice is very well projected and phrased. She also manages the colouratura better than most sopranos in the role. And also Jeffrey Wells who makes for a menacing Gessler. Jemmy and Hedwige are also convincingly sung and acted, with Gaele Le Roi's Jemmy very poignant at times.
Marcello Giordani is generally an uneven performer. He is committed and has a great voice. Here he is very involved, I can find him stolid sometimes such as with roles like Calaf, and he sings beautifully, coping very well with Arnold's high tessitura. If I were to say anything though, I do prefer a more lyric voice for Arnold in alternative to Giordani's more Verdian voice.
All in all, excellent. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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