Rossini's William Tell – his last opera – has had something of a revival in recent years, either in its original French version or in Italian translation, and there are several excellent recordings, notably the 1972 performance led by Gardelli with Bacquier, Gedda, and Caballé in the leading roles (EMI).
This one, from a 1972 production in Milan, wouldn't be worth notice were it not for the presence of Fischer-Dieskau in the title role. He sang a fair amount of Italian opera, not always convincingly, but here he is very good: robust, intelligent and persuasive in his characterization, singing well in the Verdian style the music requires. Most of the rest of the cast is also good, with Cerquetti a bit strident but effective as Matilde. Jaia hits Arnoldo's high notes well enough, but there isn't much sweetness in his voice and he shouts more than he sings; the set contains as a bonus most of Arnoldo's arias sung by Gedda from another 1972 performance, and he shows how they should be done.
The orchestra and chorus are fine, and Rossi leads them in a spirited and sympathetic performance. The sound is only fair, and the libretto is in Italian only, but the set is worth hearing for F-D's spirited effort.
Copyright © 2000, Alexander J. Morin