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Guillaume Tell

on May 10, 2020
This is the page for the performance on May 10, 2020.
Music Gioachino Rossini

Cast 10.05.2020

Conductor Michele Mariotti
Production David Pountney
Bühnenbild und Kostüme Richard Hudson
Lichtgestaltung Robert Bryan
Chorleitung Thomas Lang
Choreography Renato Zanella
Guillaume Tell Christopher Maltman
Arnold Juan Diego Flórez
Gesler Adam Plachetka
Mathilde Olga Peretyatko


In his last and 40th music theatre piece, Gioachino Rossini, the greatest composer of his day, gave the world another operatic hit. Guillaume Tell, based on a play by Schiller, uses the imposing and extravagant resources of French Grand opéra to retell the legend of the Swiss liberation hero. For almost 20 years the masterpiece, which director David Pountney enriched with symbolic imagery, was absent from the Vienna State Opera programme, and now it returns with a formidable cast!

Program booklet (2,50€)




The idyllic mountain village of Bürglen in the canton of Uri. The people sing in praise of the beauty of nature, the fisherman Ruodi sings a love song, and preparations are under way for a wedding. Only Guillaume Tell contemplates the fate of his homeland, which is ruled by the despotic Habsburgs. Old Melcthal and his son Arnold appear; whereas the old man is respected by the people, his son Arnold served in the Austrian occupying forces. Left alone, Arnoldʼs thoughts turn to his secret love for the Habsburg princess Mathilde, whom he saved from an avalanche. Tell realises that the young man is despondent and tries to win him over to the Swiss cause. Reluctantly, Arnold assures him that when the time for rebellion arrives, he will stand shoulder to shoulder with his countrymen. He steals away from the following marriage ceremony at which his father blesses the couples.

The celebrations are interrupted by the arrival of Leuthold, who is being pursued. To protect his daughterʼs honour he has killed one of the governorʼs soldiers. Tell saves Leuthold from his pursuers by rowing him across the dangerous rapids to the other side of the river. The Swiss are jubilant, but Rudolphe, the leader of the Austrian detachment that now arrives on the scene, demands furiously to be told the name of the man who saved the »murderer«. When the peasants refuse, the Austrians seize old Melcthal and destroy the village.


Mathilde manages to seperate herself from Geslerʼs hunting party on the Rütli, confiding her secret love for Arnold to Mother Nature. Her lover enters and swears that he will make himself worthy of her by fighting bravely with the Austrians. When Tell and Walter appear, Mathilde hastily departs. The two men only succeed in persuading Arnold to join their conspiracy when they tell him that his father has been murdered by the Austrians. Men from the cantons of Unterwalden, Schwyz and Uri enter. They all solemnly swear to fight under Tellʼs command.


Arnold and Mathilde meet one another secretly. When the despairing Arnold tells Mathilde about the murder of his father, she realises that there is no future for their love. The lovers take their leave of each other as Geslerʼs troops assemble. On the market square in Altdorf, the celebrations organised by Gesler to mark a hundred years of Austrian rule in Switzerland start. Gesler orders all those present to make obeisance to his hat. Only Tell refuses to do so. Tell is seized and disarmed; his son, whom he tries to send to give the signal for revolt, is also held by Geslerʼs troops. The governor puts Jemmyʼs life in Tellʼs hands: Tell is to shoot an apple from his sonʼs head. To the delight of the crowd, Tellʼs shot succeeds. However, when Tell admits that he had earmarked a second arrow for the governor, the furious Gesler has him thrown into chains. Mathilde enters and takes Tellʼs son into her care. Gesler determines to take Tell across the lake to Küssnacht, where he shall die in prison.


Arnold emotionally takes his leave of his fatherʼs house. Friends arriving on the scene inform him about Tellʼs arrest, and the news rouses Arnoldʼs will to fight. He takes his place at their head with the battle cry »victory or death«. Tellʼs wife Hedwige is resolved to appeal to the governor to save her husband and son. Mathilde then enters with Jemmy, and offers herself as a hostage to ensure Tellʼs safe return. Jemmy immediately runs off to light the beacon signalling the start of the uprising. During the storm, Tell escapes from Geslers boat, and when the Austrians attempt to follow him, he shoots Gesler dead. Arnold announces that he has freed Altdorf. The storm subsides, revealing a magnificent view of the countryside; the liberated Swiss gather to sing the praise of their country.