Il Trovatore, Opera by G. Verdi
Il trovatore is a great example of the keen dramatic sense that characterises all opera masterpieces by the great Giuseppe Verdi. With a libretto by the prolific Salvatore Cammarano and the poetic finishing touches of Leone Emanuele Bardare, the opera debuted on 19 January 1853 at the Teatro Apollo in Rome. Its gripping story and Verdi’s visceral score turned it into an immediate hit. Il trovatore continues capturing hearts, now at Venice’s Gran Teatro La Fenice.
Antonio García Gutiérrez and his play El Trovador delivered the creative impulse for Verdi and Cammarano. Adapting the theatrical text for the operatic stage was a formidable challenge. García’s work had so many parallel plot lines and such melodramatic twists that the two Italians found themselves in a seemingly never-ending creative struggle. Out of that challenge, however, came one of the finest examples of Italian opera where highly strung drama meets supreme levels of musical characterisation and narration.
At the heart of Il trovatore lies the romance of the Gypsy troubadour and revolutionary Manrico and the noblewoman Leonora, whom he has won over with his music and his charm. The old Azucena, Manrico’s mother, harbours a dark secret of death, tragedy and revenge that eventually plays out in the Gypsies’ confrontation with Count di Luna. True love requires a great sacrifice and vengeance breeds one tragedy after the other as Il trovatore rushes towards a stunning grand finale.
Verdi’s powerful musical narration is an essential part of the opera’s success. The arias of the main actors are mini-masterclasses in musical characterisation, and the ensemble numbers, such as the ‘Anvil Chorus’ rank among Verdi’s calling cards.