William Tell is an Italian opera; no matter that Rossini wrote it to a French script. It’s as Italian as mozzarella. The finale to act 1 sets a model for many of the Italian operas which followed Rossini’s final work. This version of this finale is taken from the performance of Tell in 2013 at the center of the Rossini universe, the annual summer festival at Pesaro.
The action follows the departure by boat of Tell and Leuthold who is wanted by the Austrians. The Austrians arrive and ask the Swiss villagers who ferried Leuthold away. The villagers refuse whereupon the Austrians drag Melchtal (the tenor’s father) away and loot the village. Melchtal is later murdered. In many productions he’s murdered on the spot or as in this staging the Austrians beat the crap out of him and then kill him.
The finale is a typical adagio concertato followed by a stretta – beauty then great energy. Pesaro does the opera in its original French, but the number is pure spaghetti. Sorry for the food allusions. If the stretta reminds you of Verdi’s Nabucco, it’s another example of Stravinsky’s dictum that good composers borrow while great ones steal.