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RossiniHis Life and Works$
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Richard Osborne

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195181296

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195181296.001.0001

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Guillaume Tell

Guillaume Tell

(p.316) Chapter Thirty-Eight Guillaume Tell

Richard Osborne

Oxford University Press

The legend of Wilhelm Tell, famous for the bow shot that cleaves the apple on his son’s head and Tell’s daring escape in a treacherous Alpine torrent from a sadistic foreign overlord, dates from the fifteenth century. The principal source of the story is the Chronikon Helveticum by the now largely discredited historian Ägidius Tschudi. Friedrich Schiller used Tschudi as the starting point for his verse drama Wilhelm Tell, from which the text of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell was “freely derived” by Etienne de Jouy. Several French versions of the Tschudi narrative were also available to Jouy, including Antoine Lemierre’s Guillaume Tell, Michel Sedaine’s libretto for André Ernest Modeste Grétry’s opera Guillaume Tell, and a prose-drama dating from the early 1790s by the imprisoned aristocrat Jean de Florian. The result was a scrupulously researched, but also lengthy draft libretto to which Rossini and his reviser-in-chief Hippolyte Bis made a number of far-reaching alterations.

Keywords:   legend, Ägidius Tschudi, Friedrich Schiller, Wilhelm Tell, Gioachino Rossini, Guillaume Tell, Etienne de Jouy, Hippolyte Bis

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