Even though it has been 140 years since Gioachino Rossini's opera William Tell was staged in Australia, the story is a familiar one. William, a young man and brilliant archer who lives in a small country town in Switzerland, gets sick of submitting to tyrannical Austrian rule – and decides to dissent, by refusing to obey orders.
What follows is a dramatic David-versus-Goliath standoff, a tangled love story and the famous William Tell trick: the shooting of an apple off his son's head.
Befittingly, Victorian Opera is promising that this will be its most epic production yet. Think costumes inspired by The Handmaid's Tale and The Hunger Games, a set design evocative of the Swiss Alps and three hours of some of the most dynamic music ever written for opera.
The colossal performance will be brought to the stage by international opera director Rodula Gaitanou (Royal Opera House, Opera Holland Park), and designed by London-based Simon Corder and acclaimed local costume designer Esther Marie Hayes. There'll be a bunch of international and Australian singers involved and a powerful, 48-strong chorus, too.
One of William Tell's most famous tunes is "Call to the Cows", based on a traditional melody played by Swiss cowhands as they send their cattle out to graze. Another highlight is, "Sois Immobile", the aria sung before the iconic apple shot, and the show's finale, which is widely accepted as one of the best opera finales every written.
William Tell is showing at St Kilda's Palais Theatre on Saturday, July 14; Tuesday, July 17; and Thursday, July 19, at 7.30pm.