AFTER the Italian Opera Company's performance of "William Tell" at Drury Lane last week, it was doubtful whether the Rossini opera justifies its revival after nearly 50 years. None of the exciting promises of the overture is ever really fulfilled. Instead, a sprawling work, which was neither true old Italian nor in the grand opera tradition that culminated in Verdi and Wagner.
The interminable length of the first act, the long pauses even in the middle of recitatives and inadequacies. such as the death of the tyrant, surely a great climax. give a feeling of platitude and lack of stage sense. which never deserted Rossini in his comic operas.
Rossini, however, was not entirely to blame for this failure. A first class production with excellent singing and acting would probably have made a roaring success of the work; but the Italians failed to rise to the occasion either dramatically or vocally and the staging, as in the other operas, was poor to say the least.
Gino Bechi was a dry, sluggish Tell, lacking all the powerful low notes; Mathilde's part, due to Onelia Fineschi's throat trouble, was almost entirely cut, and Maria Filippeschi (Arnold) although in fine form. was loud and crude. In fact the best moments came from Alicia Markova in the ballet scenes.
NEGLECTED works is the ' theme of this year's productions. Handel's Oratorio " Theodora," last produced (as far as 1 know) in 1750 was revived by the Handel Opera Society at the Assembly Rooms as part of the St. Pancras Arts Festival. Although Anthony Beach made a skilful job of the production, the work is too static ever to make its mark on the stage. Musically, however, there is much that is beautiful and dramatic. Helen Watt's voice (Didymus) has the ideal pure, clean line for Handel, and Geraint Evans as Valens had the forcefulness lacking in April Cantelo's interpretation of Theodora.
Royal Festival 11E111
THE. eminent 'cellist, Paul
Tortelier. made a return visit when he appeared with the B.B.C. Symphony Orchestra under Rudolf Schwarz at the R F.H. last Wednesday playing the Dvorak concerto. Tortelier's rendering was sincere, warm and romantic unhampered by the slightest technical difficulties, hut it was a pity that soloist and orchestra were at variance in matters of interpretation. The programme also included Britten's Sinfonia do Requiem, and a polished, sparkling performance of Strauss' Till Eulenspiegel. L.H.