For many people, the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the words William Tell is “Hi-Yo Silver!” — the Lone Ranger’s signature yell, accompanied by the galloping melody of the "William Tell Overture."

Though the “masked man” does not figure in the plot of the Rossini opera that follows the overture, the association is not inappropriate, commented Wichita Grand Opera general director Parvan Bakardiev, who is planning for William Tell’s Kansas premiere on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m.

“William Tell is our opera’s hero, and like the Lone Ranger, he lives outside the law — fighting for Switzerland’s independence — but he lives by a code. I’m sure he would agree with the Lone Ranger ‘that all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.’"

On top of that, they are both excellent marksmen, Bakardiev said, referring to the tense scene where Tell is forced to shoot an apple off his own son’s head.

The idealism of the Lone Ranger Creed is evident throughout the epic, multi-layered plot of Tell. William Tell is caught between his duty to lead the Swiss in opposition to the Austrian oppressors, and his duty to protect his own safety and the safety of his family.

“It was very interesting for me to hear this side of Rossini, this very dramatic side to his music," said Chuck Hudson, who is directing the production. "The music is really, really beautiful, which is what we want from a grand opera. I’ve enjoyed being swept away by the music and then refocusing on the story and the characters within that."

WGO’s Tell is the first new U.S. production in nearly 20 years and the only U.S. presentation of the work this season. Tickets to the Feb. 22 performance of William Tell are on sale now. Season ticket packages are also available. For all ticket orders and inquiries, and for more information about WGO’s group sales and corporate discounts, contact the box office at 262-8054 or visit www.WichitaGrandOpera.org/tickets.