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Om Rossini's Guillaume Tell (William Tell)
The outrageous tale of William Tell - the Swiss patriot ordered by Gessler, the Austrian governor, to shoot at an apple on his small son's head as a punishment for not bowing to a hat on a pole - dates from antiquity. The men of the three Forest Districts, today called 'Cantons', Unterwald, Schwyz and Uri, reputedly met to form the Swiss Confederacy, the Confederation Suisse, or 'Confoederatio Helvetica' (CH), which we recognise as Switzerland today.Rossini's opera Guillaume Tell, written in French and premired in Paris in 1829 is based on Friedrich Schiller's earlier play. This was to be Rossini's last opera.Rossini's Tell is a fearsome revolutionary leader, a rebel motivated by patriotism and hatred. Within twelve months of the opera being premired, the unpopular King Charles X of France was kicked out in the July revolution known as 'Les trois glorieuses' and commemorated by Delacroix in his wellknown painting of Liberty leading the People.The opera is long, so is usually subject to considerable cuts. The exciting conclusion in which Gessler crashing into the Lake Lucerne is sometimes omitted. But, we can be sure that, however presented, he comes to a sticky end.