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Subject: Cuts in the Met's new "Guillaume Tell"
From: "Max D. Winter" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max D. Winter
Date:Thu, 20 Oct 2016 00:02:32 -0400

text/plain (65 lines)

"Guillaume Tell" was disfigured by extensive cuts very early in its performance history.  So 
common was butchering the score at the Paris Opera that when Rossini was told years later 
that, in his honor, the Opera was presenting Act II of "Tell," Rossini responded, sarcastically, 
"Act II?  You mean the WHOLE THING?"      

So I was glad, in listening to the Met's new "Tell" last night, that the cuts were so few, and 
those that there were, were mostly well-chosen.

I was following with the libretto to the (complete) EMI recording under Gardelli, and not the 
score, but for the record the cuts I noted were as follows:

Act I

The recitative before the dances, from Melcthal's "Des antiques vertus" up to the chorus, 
"Hymenee, ta journee fortunee"

The "Pas des Six" ballet (but not the ballet of the archers during the archery contest)

(Not a cut, but Melcthal's blessing of the couples was moved to later in the scene.)  

Act II

No cuts.


Sc. 2 - Some cuts (about 4 minutes) in the dances.

Act IV

Sc. 2 - The trio for Mathilde, Hedwige and Jemmy, and the following recitative and prayer 
for the women.  

Because I was not following with a score I cannot swear that there were no snips in 
choruses, ensembles, and orchestral passages, but I did not notice any.  My impression was 
that other than the above-listed cuts, the opera was presented intact.  Good for Luisi and 
the Met; we have all benefitted from hearing so much of the music.

Perhaps there was no way to avoid this problem, but running Acts II and III together made 
for a Gotterdammerung-like long central act (nearly 2 hours).  (Pity those audience 
members with small bladders!)  And given how short (barely 20 minutes) Act IV was, it 
made for a rather lopsided evening.  In light of how short Act IV was, cutting the lovely 
canon trio for the three women was a pity.  If total running time was an issue, I think it 
would have been better if the Met instead had cut more of the ballet music in Act III and 
preserved the Act IV trio and prayer.

One more thing regarding the high tessitura of the role of Arnold.  James Joyce (yes, the 
"Ulysses" James Joyce) was an admirer of Irish tenor John O'Sullivan.  When O'Sullivan 
sang Arnold, Joyce went through the vocal score and calculated that Sullivan had sung 456 
Gs, 93 A flats, 54 B flats, 15 Bs, 19 Cs, and 2 C sharps.  (No word on how many As.)  Yikes.


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