The premiere marks the first time in over a century that the epic opera, with its unmistakably iconic overture, has been staged in Australia. Befitting its historic return, the masterpiece marks the largest production in Victorian Opera’s history.
Staged with grit and grandeur, the rarely performed opera will grip modern audiences with a dystopian costume design inspired by The Hunger Games and The Handmaid’s Tale. A set evoking the Swiss Alps forms the backdrop to the conflict between a technologically superior conquering force and a simple rural community. The opera focuses on the legendary tale of the sharp-shooting hero on a quest for freedom from tyrannical rule and the courage that victory demands.
The William Tell overture is instantly recognisable, having been used and re-used throughout pop culture. With the sound of its triumphant trumpets and vigorous galloping tune, the overture’s iconic finale has a long list of credits: from the theme for The Lone Ranger (1949 – 1957) and The Adventures of William Tell (1958 – 1959), to memorable appearances in Looney Tunes (Bugs Bunny’s Overtures to Disaster), the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup (1933), A Clockwork Orange (1971), and Animal House (1979).
Beyond the overture’s famed finale, the opera contains thrilling arias and ensembles, musical scene painting, and vocal virtuosity that highlight Rossini’s extraordinary talents as a composer. Premiering in Paris in 1829, William Tell marked his final opera following earlier triumphs such as The Barber of Seville and La Cenerentola.
William Tell will be Victorian Opera’s largest production ever staged, featuring the highest international contingent, the biggest chorus (48 members) and the most costumes created for a single production. It will be epic in all senses of the word.
Victorian Opera’s Artistic Director Richard Mills conducts the legendary score, working alongside internationally acclaimed director Rodula Gaitanou (Royal Opera House, Opera Holland Park). London-based set and lighting designer Simon Corder and local costume designer Esther Marie Hayes collaborate to realise the production.
A cast of international and Australian singers perform the epic opera, including the Australian debut of Paris-based Argentinian baritone Armando Noguera as Guillaume Tell. Armando’s long-standing history performing Rossini’s repertoire, expertise singing in French opera, and charismatic stage presence makes him the perfect performer to tackle the role.
He will be joined by a talented line-up including Italian bass Paolo Pecchioli, Swedish soprano Gisela Stille, as well as Victorian Opera audience favourites Teddy Tahu Rhodes (Sweeney Todd), Carlos Bárcenas (Lucia di Lammermoor, La Sonnambula), Liane Keegan (The Flying Dutchman, The Sleeping Beauty), and Jeremy Kleeman (Voyage to the Moon, The Magic Pudding – the opera).
An historic event on the Australian stage, the opera’s message continues to resonate in our increasingly divided modern world: hope for a better world and the possibility of living in harmony.
“Victorian Opera is thrilled to present Rossini’s epic William Tell in the first fully-staged production in Australia for over a century,” says Richard Mills. It is the largest production in the company’s history and an operatic event of incredible significance.”
“William Tell is a legend for all time and thus a legend for our time: it explores the nature of power and the strength of family relationships in times of struggle. Rossini is the greatest musical dramatist, telling an epic story in the context of community interactions, the dynamics of the victor and the vanquished, and man’s relationship with the eternal forces of nature.”
Conductor: Richard Mills AM Director: Rodula Gaitanou Featuring: Armando Noguera, Carlos E. Bárcenas, Jeremy Kleeman, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Alexandra Flood, Paolo Pecchioli, Paul Biencourt, Timothy Reynolds, Jerzy Kozlowski, Gisela Stille, Liane Keegan, Victorian Opera Chorus, Orchestra Victoria Set and Lighting Design: Simon Corder Costume Design: Esther Marie Hayes Assistant Director: Meg Deyell
Palais Theatre, Lower Esplanade, St. Kilda
Performance: 14, 17 & 19 July 2018
Information and Bookings: www.victorianopera.com.au
Image: Victorian Opera presents William Tell – photo by Charlie Kinross