*Altdorf. Town in Switzerland’s Uri canton on whose public square people are building a prison fortress under duress, and where William Tell is forced to shoot an apple off the top of his son’s head with his bow. The fortress—along with the pole with the hat near the town, to which the Swiss are required to pay obeisance—represents the claim of the Austrian governor to rule this area. As a visual sign of how the citizens of the forest cantons later freed themselves through common action, the Swiss dismantle the building on stage to the sound of bells and an alpenhorn.
*Rutli Meadow. Forest clearing from which Lake Lucerne is visible, as are mountain glaciers in the background. Located between two of the forest cantons, this meadow is the scene for the solemn oath of mutual defense among the cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden, which became the nucleus of Switzerland. The Swiss consider the historic oath on this meadow to be the founding act of the modern Swiss Confederation. Every year, the Swiss restage Schiller’s play on the actual meadow to commemorate their political union.
Baron von Attinghausen’s mansion
Baron von Attinghausen’s mansion (AHT-tihng-how-zehn). Home of Werner, Baron von Attinghausen, Ulrich’s uncle, the elderly leader of the Swiss nationalist movement. The mansion contains a Gothic hall, decorated with coats of arms and helmets that represent the old political order, when Swiss nobles swore allegiance directly to the Holy Roman emperor, not an Austrian governor. The baron cultivates the old local customs, which emphasize solidarity of rich and poor. His blessing on the uprising of the Swiss against Austria helps assure a bright future. His death in the play marks a new era in which a Swiss nobility is no longer needed and all Swiss are to be equal and free.