William Tell (opera)

From Academic Kids

Guillaume Tell (William Tell) is an opera in four acts by Gioacchino Rossini to a French libretto by Etienne de Jouy and Hippolyte Bis, based on Friedrich Schiller's Wilhelm Tell. It was first performed at the Paris Opéra on August 3, 1829.

It has been performed in Italian under the title Guglielmo Tell. However, today the opera is rarely performed in any language, and it is known mostly for its overture.

William Tell was Rossini's final opera even though the composer lived happily in France for nearly another 40 years afterwards. There are a several recordings of it, but its length (roughly six hours) and casting requirements (The tenor role contains 28 high Cs) contribute to the difficulty in producing the opera. When it is performed, it is often heavily cut.


William Tell Overture

The opera's overture, especially its high-energy finale, is a very familiar work, written in four parts, each segueing into the next:

  • Prelude - a slow passage with low-pitch instruments such as cello and bass
  • Storm - dynamic section played by full orchestra
  • Ranz des vaches (call to the dairy cows) - featuring the English horn
  • Finale - ultra-dynamic "cavalry charge" heralded by trumpets and played by full orchesta

There has been repeated use (and sometimes parody) of this famous overture in the popular media:

  • The finale is most famous for being the theme music for the Lone Ranger media property.
  • All but the prelude were used in Spike Jones' humorous rendition, centering around a fictitious horserace.
  • All but the prelude has often been used in animated cartoons: Storm for ships at sea and other tumultuous scenes; Ranz des vaches for any sunrise or waking-up scene, especially on a farm; and the finale for any scene involving galloping, examples being the Warner Brothers cartoons Wabbit Twouble and Yankee Doodle Daffy.
  • A small repetitive portion of the Ranz des vaches was once used in Ivory soap ads.
  • The TV cartoon series The Flintstones put words to the finale, resulting in the song Happy Anniversary.
  • Portions of the prelude and the finale were used in the Stanley Kubrick film A Clockwork Orange, the former in a straight and somber scene, the latter in a humorous context.
  • Portions of the finale were used for many years as a TV and radio jingle by Pizza Hut in Sydney, Australia.
  • On the last Friday in April, 2005, a Minneapolis Public Radio station happened to play the overture during the height of rush hour. At the conclusion, the announcer commented that this was "good on-ramp music".
  • Knowing at least the meter of the first line of the finale is essential to understanding this joke:
Q: Where does the Lone Ranger take his garbage?
A: To the dump, to the dump, to the dump-dump-dump!



Time: The early 14th century.
Place: Switzerland.

Noted arias

  • "Asile héréditaire" (Arnold)
  • "Sois immobile" (Tell)
  • "Sombre forêt" (Mathilde)


Template:Listende:Guillaume Tell es:Guillaume Tell


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