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An infinitely happier bel canto release is the Blu-ray of Guillaume Tell from Pesaro, in Graham Vick’s production. The critical edition, lasting over four hours, is completely convincing musically and dramatically. Vick places independence and politics at the heart of his production, which is set in a spare white set, costumes updated to the dying days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Not that the stage effects are eschewed, in fact the opposite – Tell shoots the apple from Jemmy’s head; video is used effectively to show the stormy lake in Act IV and provides a moving backstory for ‘Asile hérédiatire’ – and Ron Howard’s inventive choreography will thrill or infuriate, but never bore. Nicola Alaimo is a rock solid Tell, dignity personified. Juan Diego Flórez is a thrilling and seemingly inexhaustible Arnold, Marina Rebeka an elegantly voiced Mathilde and Amanda Forsythe an exciting Jemmy, who for once gets her aria and her share of the Act IV trio. The supporting roles are cast from strength, the chorus firm. Michele Mariotti’s conducting is outstanding, capturing the chamber qualities of the piece as well as its overall grandeur and moulding every phrase with attention. The final scene, always a knockout, is even more moving with the sight of a hesitant Jemmy being encouraged by his parents to ascend a giant staircase to a brave new world. If Tell interests you as an opera, you are a fan of great singing, you want a complete version and you are happy with a detailed and challenging production, I don’t think you can better this release. As a bonus, it’s excitingly filmed by Tiziano Mancini.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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