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Thread: Favorite William (Guillaume) Tell on CD/DVD

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    Senior Member SixFootScowl's Avatar
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    Default Favorite William (Guillaume) Tell on CD/DVD

    I could not find any threads in the Opera on DVD/CD subforum on this opera. Must be pretty obscure, even though some believe it to be Rossini's best opera.

    There are two threads in the opera forum (this one and that one) that seem not worth resurrecting, and since they are not in the opera CD/DVD forum, I decided to start this thread.

    I am totally new to this opera with just finishing watching the DVD with Florez and Rebeka. It is a great production though the ballet parts are both a bit strange and perhaps perverse (not out of character for Gesler though). So upon watching that DVD I got the bug and ordered the Muti DVD with Studer as Mathilde and the CD set featuring Caballe as Mathilde.

    One thing that is confusing is what languages are being sung. I am not sure what I have in that respect. Was the Flores DVD Italian? What language are the sets with Caballe on CD and Studer on DVD?

    And aside from all that, the main purpose of this thread is to see what are your favorite recordings of this opera.

    For CD it seems from the other threads that the top two sets are:

    This recording in Italian is very good:

    * Sherrill Milnes, Luciano Pavarotti, Mirella Freni, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Della Jones, Elizabeth Connell, John Tomlinson, Piero de Palma. Ambrosian Opera Chorus. National Philarmonic Orchestra: Riccardo Chailly 1978-79

    In French:

    * Gabriel Bacquier, Nicolai Gedda, Montserrat Caballé, Kolos Kovacs, Mady Mesplé, Jocelyn Taillon, Gwynne Howell, Ricardo Cassinelli. Ambrosian Opera Chorus. Royal Philarmonic Orchestra: Lamberto Gardelli 1972
    Last edited by SixFootScowl; Jul-18-2021 at 18:05.
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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    It was written for the Paris Opéra and so was written to a French libretto and is therefore more properly titled Guillaume Tell. The Italian version came later and is known as Guglielmo Tell.

    I prefer hearing the opera in French and, fortunately the Gardelli recording with Caballé, Bacquier and Gedda is excellent. You can't go wrong with it. That said, the Italian version with Milnes, Freni and Pavarotti under Chailly is also very good. It's probably due to both the opera's length and the fact that these two recordings are so fine that it hasn't been recorded very often.
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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    I have been championing this opera for ages. i think it is a masterpiece.
    I have both the Gardelli and the Chailly.
    I prefer the Gardelli. It just seems to sound better in the language it was written in.
    Although Chailly has some moments done better.
    Also i vastly prefer Gedda over Pavarotti whom i avoid whenever possible.
    If you only want one, go Gardelli,
    If you really love this opera, like i do, you should have both.

    All the dvds i have seen for sale suck.
    If you must have one go Muti.
    He has movie screens in the back for scenery and rushes the tempi, but that's what's out theere.
    Last edited by Itullian; Jul-18-2021 at 18:33.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SixFootScowl View Post
    I could not find any threads in the Opera on DVD/CD subforum on this opera. Must be pretty obscure, even though some believe it to be Rossini's best opera.

    There are two threads in the opera forum (this one and that one) that seem not worth resurrecting, and since they are not in the opera CD/DVD forum, I decided to start this thread.

    I am totally new to this opera with just finishing watching the DVD with Florez and Rebeka. It is a great production though the ballet parts are both a bit strange and perhaps perverse (not out of character for Gesler though). So upon watching that DVD I got the bug and ordered the Muti DVD with Studer as Mathilde and the CD set featuring Caballe as Mathilde.

    One thing that is confusing is what languages are being sung. I am not sure what I have in that respect. Was the Flores DVD Italian? What language are the sets with Caballe on CD and Studer on DVD?

    And aside from all that, the main purpose of this thread is to see what are your favorite recordings of this opera.

    For CD it seems from the other threads that the top two sets are:
    Muti DVD with Merritt, Zancanaro, Studer from La Scala, Italian-- this is also available as a CD

    Florez/Rebeka DVD, French (Guillaume Tell)

    Gardelli Cds with Bacquier, Gedda, Caballe, French

    Chailly/Pavarotti/Freni/Milnes--- lots of voice there but the wrong language, Italian

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    I love this work so much. It is glorious. I prefer Chailly 1000% over Gardelli. Gardelli is just too dull for me. Chailly packs so much drama and excitement that Gardelli misses, IMO. I also think Chailly’s is not only much better from a conducting standpoint, but the orchestra and signing is better. I love French grand opera, but I think considering the Tell options out there, the Italian recording is by far the best. Pappano has cuts, which is a no go for me. I got the Muti recording years ago, but there was no point in keeping it because I would never choose it over the Chailly.

    I agree with Itulian, you should consider both the Gardelli and Chailly. I still listen to the Gardelli from time to time, but choose the Chailly 95% of the time.
    Last edited by gellio; Jul-19-2021 at 17:03.
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    Any thoughts about the Naxos recording (Fogliani conducting, with Michael Spyres as Arnold)?

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    I'd say there is no reason you should pick one and avoid the other: you need both Gardelli and Chailly!

    Slightly offtopic: I try to avoid some of those La Scala/Muti recordings because the singing is so varied in quality (not the brightest period of La Scala history, to be honest) - for example, La Donna del Lago is ugh! with both tenors past their prime and just not up to the (very hefty!) task at hand. Tell DVD with Merritt is a curiosity but an unnecessary one. Same goes with I Vespri Siciliani DVD (Furlanetto is terrific though)... probably the only one that's 100% hits the mark is Attila (okay, Zancanaro isn't top notch here either, but Ramey and Studer just KILL! Not up to Gardelli level of "kill" but still very enjoyable!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    Any thoughts about the Naxos recording (Fogliani conducting, with Michael Spyres as Arnold)?
    Somewhere I read that the NAXOS recording is the most absolutely complete recording available and even includs appendices for variants.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    Any thoughts about the Naxos recording (Fogliani conducting, with Michael Spyres as Arnold)?
    This is not quite the performance I'd come back to frequently.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gellio View Post
    I love this work so much. It is glorious. I prefer Chailly 1000% over Gardelli. Gardelli is just too dull for me. Chailly packs so much drama and excitement that Gardelli misses, IMO. I also think Chailly’s is not only much better from a conducting standpoint, but the orchestra and signing is better. I love French grand opera, but I think considering the Tell options out there, the Italian recording is by far the best. Pappano has cuts, which is a no go for me. I got the Muti recording years ago, but there was no point in keeping it because I would never choose it over the Chailly.

    I agree with Itulian, you should consider both the Gardelli and Chailly. I still listen to the Gardelli from time to time, but choose the Chailly 95% of the time.
    I'm with Itullian. Gardelli is the one I go to most often. I don't find it in the least bit dull. Nor would I agree that the singing on Chailly is much better. I prefer Bacquier to Milnes, Caballé to Freni and Gedda to Pavarotti. The Chailly is a bit more obviously exciting, but the Gardelli is French Grand Opera, sung in French with quite a few French cast members.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azol View Post
    This is not quite the performance I'd come back to frequently.
    Good to know. Glad I ordered the Gardelli recording, used for only $12 shipped.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azol View Post
    I'd say there is no reason you should pick one and avoid the other: you need both Gardelli and Chailly!

    Slightly offtopic: I try to avoid some of those La Scala/Muti recordings because the singing is so varied in quality (not the brightest period of La Scala history, to be honest) - for example, La Donna del Lago is ugh! with both tenors past their prime and just not up to the (very hefty!) task at hand. Tell DVD with Merritt is a curiosity but an unnecessary one. Same goes with I Vespri Siciliani DVD (Furlanetto is terrific though)... probably the only one that's 100% hits the mark is Attila (okay, Zancanaro isn't top notch here either, but Ramey and Studer just KILL! Not up to Gardelli level of "kill" but still very enjoyable!)
    I just did the Muti/La Scala DVD through last night. An oddity. There is something so off-putting about the filming or lighting or something, a distance and dullness that tarnished my enjoyment. But I think Zancanaro is good and a good presence on stage, Chris Merritt much better than I remembered (but seemed to fade as the night went on, not hard to understand why), but his is a voice to tolerate, not love. He sings better than I recalled, the voice well handled and no interruption to the upper voice, all nicely integrated.
    The money is Studer. Short of Caballe, really great singing but dulled by the film or recording or something. Still, pay attention and you hear some very beautiful singing, marvelous technique, with fioritura that are integrated in the same way that Caballe does, and almost as well done. She is wonderful and I would listen/watch again for her. Sombre Foret is quite the masterpiece--- AS IS THE WHOLE OPERA!! Somebody else has been pushing that and it is absolutely true.

    Finally, the La Scala DVD turns from filmed nature projected as a backdrop (Swiss Mountains and waters) to a finale peroration with Maestro Muti projected from the stage. A little thick (and maybe a little Orwellian). He's shown quite a bit throughout, and frequently is looking up receiving direct communication from the divine I guess rather than looking at his players. Pretty full of himself. Not so good.
    Last edited by mparta; Jul-21-2021 at 01:28.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mparta View Post
    He's shown quite a bit throughout, and frequently is looking up receiving direct communication from the divine I guess rather than looking at his players. Pretty full of himself. Not so good.
    I believe he was communicating to the singers up on stage. Opera conductors must share their attention between the orchestra down below and the singers up above. Had it been Karajan in his advanced years then I'd say he communicated with his "inner self" having his eyes closed for most all the time

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    Quote Originally Posted by Azol View Post
    I believe he was communicating to the singers up on stage. Opera conductors must share their attention between the orchestra down below and the singers up above. Had it been Karajan in his advanced years then I'd say he communicated with his "inner self" having his eyes closed for most all the time
    He does it during the overture when there's no one on stage. I think it's just pretentious. Very aware of being filmed.

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    To me, Tell has a rather complex shot-silk quality that I find both intriguing & appealing. The libretto is strongly, even simplistically pro-revolution, yet the music comes from a composer with an exceptionally equable temperament and ultraconservative political views. Result: an opera that tends to pull in two opposite directions at the same time.

    The beauty of the Gardelli and Chailly CD sets is that each of them brings out one of those two aspects. The Gardelli set, with its French refinement, highlights the work's conservatism; the Chailly set, with its Italianate slancio, highlights its radicalism. And each of them has precisely the cast suited to its approach. If you moved either Bacquier or Gedda into the Chailly set, and either Milnes or Pavarotti into the Gardelli, the effect would be spoiled.

    Consequently, I personally want both of those sets!

    In minor roles, overall Chailly may have slightly the more evenly strong cast, but on the other hand his Gessler (Ferruccio Mazzoli) has a prominent vibrato that I know troubles some listeners. Doesn't bother me personally. Mazzoli has a very strong, colorful presence--and again, I find it appropriate that the more "radical" set should depict its villain as an uglier customer than the more "conservative" one does!

    I would rank both those CD sets well above any of the DVDs, where the casts aren't so harmoniously integrated and the visuals seem to me slightly out of touch with the approach adopted by the conductor & performers. I suspect better stagings may have been filmed than any of those released on commercial DVD. Often the case, of course, in the realm of opera!
    Last edited by gvn; Jul-23-2021 at 19:46.

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