the finale of the overture

the finale of the overture

Last Sunday I listened to Rossini’s William Tell Overture and noticed something wonderful. It contains all the excitement a writer wants to cover in a four-part novel. This isn’t surprising because I would expect an overture to hint at great things to come in the opera–it should be a tantalizing synopsis of the story.

This morning I listened again with purpose and recorded my observations.

(I’m not well-educated musically, so my reference to minor keys and cellos may be incorrect.)

Part 1 starts with the ordinary world, the status quo, but a current of discontent runs through it. Then it gets sweet. The sweetness pauses to let a rumble of thunder pass through, then recommences. Yet it is a minor sounding sweetness. A hovering sound–like a hive–then another roll of thunder, shifts the mood. We like this sweetness, but it is unsatisfying. We would welcome a change because this sameness is oppressive.

Part 2 begins with a sound like raindrops chirped from flutes and cellos(?). It builds to a crescendo, like a storm of wind and wailing. It’s exciting but frightening. This is a storm that makes us rush to gather our loved ones and possessions; we may need to flee and since we knew it was coming, we were somewhat prepared. Part 2 ends with those same sweet flute notes, as if the threat has passed.

Part 3 introduces the beauty of a summer morning after a terrific storm. The world is rain-washed and lovely, but there has been damage. Nevertheless we welcome the respite. It goes on long enough for us to resume daily life under the guise of peacefulness and harmony–images of birds singing and butterflies in the meadow come to mind. This is the false peace after the dramatic events that just transpired. Indeed this lovely, repeated theme lulls but bores and we wouldn’t like it to go on forever. We are anticipating a change.

Part 4 cuts off the end of part 3, drowns it out. It’s loud, it’s exciting. We like this very much. We feel safe, electrified, vindicated. Help is riding by. Some of us are joining in. It could be Captain Moroni’s theme music for the title of liberty–no, Alma 62 (but perhaps it’s too joyous for that–movie stuff). Victory is achieved and satisfaction is served all around. The foe is soundly defeated and had better not, will not, try again. Not in this fort. Not under my command.

I don’t know if anyone listens to or performs the opera Guillaume Tell anymore (might have to check that out). Could it possibly live up to its introduction?

As a listener, don’t miss the whole overture only to revel in the finale (The Lone Ranger Theme). But feel free to skip the opera. I got all I wanted in the introduction. (Hmm, another good lesson for the neophyte writer. Make sure the longer work is better than the synopsis!)

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