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Giuseppe Verdi

The Troubadour

Il Trovatore - Director Alvis Hermanis,
Manrico - Francesco Meli, Count di Luna - Placido Domingo, Leonora - Anna Netrepko

Il Trovatore - Kabaivanska, Domingo, Cappuccilli, Cossotto, van Dam - Karajan

Anna Netrerebko, Placido Domingo - Il Trovatore - Berlin, 2013

Ever since it was first produced in Rome on an especially dark and stormy night more than a century ago, Il trovatore has been one of the most popular operas in the world. The reason for its popularity today must be, at least partly, that it has so many tunes that everyone has loved from childhood.

The Miserere, Home to Our Mountains, The Anvil Chorus, The Tempest of the Heart—these are only a few of the wonderful melodies that form part of our folk culture, whether sung by school children or heard on barrel organs. It can hardly be the storytelling which makes this opera so popular, for it boasts one of the most puzzling plots that ever graced a stage. It is based on various events that actually happened in fifteenth-century Spain, but the scenes are so arranged that most of the pivotal actions occur before the opera begins or between the act. Still, because the music is so eloquent, one can always tell whether the characters are happy or sad, or full of love or full of hate. And everyone in Il trovatore is full of some strong emotion all the time.


(The Troubadour)


Opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi with libretto in Italian by Salvatore Cammarano based on a play by Antonio Garcia Gutierrez which was based, in turn, on some real happenings


LEONORA, lady-in-waiting to Princess of Aragon
AZUCENA, a Biscayan gypsy woman 

MANRICO, a chieftain under the Prince of Biscay and reputed son of Azucena
COUNT DI LUNA, a young noble of Aragon
FERRANDO, Di Luna's Captain of the Guard
INEZ, confidante of Leonora


Time: 15th century
Place: Biscay and Aragon
First performance at Rome, January 19, 1853


LeonoraSoprano. A duchess, Lady‐in‐Waiting to the Princess of Aragon. She is loved by Count di Luna and also by the troubador Manrico—she has heard the latter serenading below her window and loves him. The two men fight in battle and she believes Manrico has been killed and vows to enter a convent. She is prevented by the appearance of Manrico, who is about to marry her when he hears that the gypsy Azucena, whom he regards as his mother, has been arrested by the Count's troops. Attempting to rescue her, he is imprisoned with Azucena. To save him, Leonora offers herself to di Luna—but she has taken poison hidden in her ring to avoid the consequences of her offer. As she releases Manrico from prison, she dies at his feet. Aria: Tacea la notte placida (‘It was a peaceful night’); D'amor sull'ali rosee (‘Go forth, on rosy wings of love’)—this is the aria sung in counterpoint to the famous Miserere, which is sung by Manrico (with chorus) from his prison cell. Created (1853) by Rosina Penco.

The Anja Harteros - Tacea la notte placida - Il trovatore

D'amor sull'ali rosee - Il Trovatore - Verdi - Aprile Millo

AzucenaMezzo-soprano. A gypsy woman living in a gypsy encampment in Biscay. Her mother was burnt as a witch for putting the evil eye on the younger son of the old Count di Luna. Azucena snatched the Count's other son. She threw a baby on to her mother's funeral pyre, but she was demented and it is not known if she threw the noble baby or her own son. She tells Manrico that he is her son and nurses him when he is wounded in battle by the young Count di Luna. Manrico and Azucena are both arrested and she is made to watch Manrico's execution. She then reveals that it was her own child she threw on the pyre many years ago, so di Luna has executed his own brother. Aria (in which she tells how her mother died): Stride la vampa! (‘Upwards roll the flames’) (the famous Anvil Chorus surrounds Azucena's solo); duets (with Manrico): Non son tuo figlio? (‘Then am I not your son?’); Ai nostri monti ritorneremo (‘Let us go back to our mountains’). Created (1853) by Emilia Goggi.

Stride la vampaAzucena, the Gipsy (Dolora Zajick), tells how her mother has been sent to death. Verdi - Il Trovatore - Act 2.
Metropolitan Opera 2011

Manrico: Tenor. The troubador of the title and an officer in the army of the Prince of Biscay. He regards the old gypsy Azucena as his mother. She is reputed to have thrown a baby boy, supposedly the younger son of the old Count di Luna, into her mother's blazing funeral pyre. The old Count is long since dead and his son has inherited his title and estate. Manrico is in love with the Duchess Leonora, lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Aragon, who is also loved by di Luna. Leonora loves the troubador who sings under her window. He and di Luna fight a duel, and although Manrico has the Count at his mercy, he feels unable to make the final thrust—something seems to stop him. Serving in opposing armies, he is later wounded by di Luna, and nursed back to health by Azucena. As Manrico is about to marry Leonora, news reaches him of Azucena's arrest by di Luna. His attempts to rescue her result in his being imprisoned with her. In return for Manrico's release, Leonora offers herself to di Luna, but to avoid the consequences of his acceptance, she takes poison and dies at Manrico's feet. As di Luna has Manrico executed, Azucena reveals that he was not her real son—that was the baby who was burned in the fire. Di Luna has just killed his own brother. Arias: Deserto sulla terra (‘Lonely upon the earth’); Di quella pira l'orrendo foco (‘The hideous fire of that pyre’); duet (with Leonore and chorus): Miserere—Quel suon, quelle preci solenni (‘The Miserere’—‘That sound, those solemn prayers’).  Created (1853) by Carlo Baucardé.

G.Verdi - IL Trovatore - "Deserto sulla terra"- Trio "Di geloso amor sprezzato"

Count di Luna: Baritone. A nobleman of Aragon, who inherited the title and estate from his father. His younger brother was snatched as a baby by the gypsy Azucena who is thought to have thrown him into the flames of her mother's funeral pyre, but di Luna doesn't believe his brother to be dead. He has fallen in love with the Duchess Leonora, but she seems to favour the troubador Manrico. The two men fight a duel, and although Manrico wins, he does not kill Luna—something seems to stop him making the final thrust. Later, in battle, Manrico is wounded by Luna and nursed by Azucena in the gypsy encampment. Luna vows to kill Azucena, whose rescue is attempted by Manrico. Now Luna imprisons them both. Leonora offers herself to him in return for Manrico's freedom—an offer he gladly accepts—but she takes poison and dies. He proceeds with Manrico's execution, and as Manrico dies Azucena tells him it was her own son she burned—Luna has just executed his brother. Aria: Il balen del suo sorriso (‘The flash of her smile’—regarded by many as one of the loveliest baritone solos Verdi ever wrote); Per me, ora fatale (‘For me, the fatal hour’). Created (1853) by Giovanni Guicciardi.

Il balen del suo sorriso... Qual suono! (Il Trovatore) - Piero Cappuccilli

Michele Kalmandi - Per me, ora fatale (il Conte di Luna, Il trovatore)

Ferrando: Bass. A Captain in the army of Count di Luna. He recounts the story of the gypsy Azucena and the baby she burnt on the funeral pyre of her mother, setting in motion the confused identities at the heart of this opera. Created (1853) by Arcangelo Balderi. 

Inez: Soprano. Confidante of Leonora, to whom she confides her love for the troubador Manrico. Created (1853) by Francesca Quadri.



Scene 1 The first act, which beats the subtitle The Duel, opens in the vestibule of the palace of Aliaferia, where our heroine Leonora lives. An old soldier named Ferrando tells some servants and soldiers of the Count di Luna (who is outside waiting to court Leonora) a bit of family history. It seems that an old witch bad cast a spell on one of the two sons of the old Count. For this she was burned at the stake, but her daughter, another witch, named Azucena, in revenge had stolen the old Count's other son and thrown him into the flames. Everyone wants to catch and burn this younger witch; but meantime the ghost of the older one is supposed to be still flying about in the shape of an owl and frightening people to deaths Ferrando's listeners become wildly excited over this tale, and as the midnight bell tolls vigorously, they all curse the witch.


Scene 2 On a moonlight nighty outside the castie, Leonora tells her confidante Inez of the mysterious knight she loves. Many years ago she had crowned him the winner of a tournament but then he had completely disappeared. Suddenly, on a recent night (and here Leonora sings her lovely aria Tacea la notte) he serenaded her. Inez warns Leonora against such a love, but her mistress only swears eternal faith to the mysterious troubadour.

When the two girls have returned to the castle, this mysterious singer is heard off-stage accompanying himself on a lute. Leonora rushes out and—mistakenly, of course—throws herself into the arms of Di Luna, who has been lying in wait for her. And when the singer, the troubadour, appears, the Count immediately challenges him to a duel. In a mighty trio Leonora pleads for the troubadour's life, while the two men defy each other. Then, with swords drawn, they rush off to fight.


Scene 1 The gypsy Azucena is in the center of the stage as the curtain goes up, surrounded by other gypsies in their camp in the mountains of Biscay. They break at once into the famous Anvil Chorus. Immediately afterwards, in the aria Stride la vampa, Azucena describes the terrible day on which she had seen her mother burned at the stake; an& as soon as the gypsies have melodiotisly gone off in search of food, she gives her son Manrico (who is the troubadour of Act I) more details. With great intensity she tells how she had stolen the old Count di Luna's younger son and how, intending to throw him into the flames, she had by error picked up her own child and destroyed him instead. Thus we learn that Manrico is really the brother or bis rival, the present Count di Luna. As for Manrico's questions as to who he really is, she insists tihat he is her son, for she bas saved his life. Manrico, like the audience, remains puzzled. And now, in a lovely aria, Mal reggendo, be tells about his duel with Count di Luna. He had had Di Luna on the ground, defenseless; when some mysterious power held his victorious arm and spared Di Luna's lifе. But the mother and son agree that be never again should show such mercy.

Just then Manrico receives a message from his Prince, urging him to help defend the castle of Castellor against the forces of Di Luna. He also learns that Leonora, linking him slain, is about to take her vows as a nun in the convent at Castellor. Thrusting aside Azucena and her protestations, Manrico wildly rushes off to the rescue of his Prince and his beloved.

Scene 2 takes us outside the convents Here we find the Count with his followers ready to abduct Leonora just as she is about to take her vows. Wbile waiting, he sings of the tempest that is raging in bis heart in the familiar aria Il balen.

An off-stage chorus of nuns tells us the ceremony is about to take place, and when the women come on, Count di Luna attempts to lead Leonora off. As if by magic, Manrico suddenly appears, to Leonora's great joy and surprise, for she had thought him dead. A moment later Manrico's followers also come on the stage. The Count di Luna is overcome, and the act ends with a great ensemble, led by the voice of Leonora expressing her happiness.


Scene 1  The third act leads us to the military camp of Count di Luna,who is laying siege to Castellor, where Manrico has taken Leonora, expecting to marry her. The soldiers sing a stirring march tune (Squilli, e cheggi), and presently Azucena, who has been found wandering neat the camp, is brought in. She denies her identity, but the old soldier, Ferrando, recognizes her as the mysterious woman who bad burned the Count's younger brother many years before. Desperately she calk on Manrico for help; and the Count, who now has two reasons for hating the old woman, swears a dire vengeance. The soldiers drag her off as the scene ends.


Scene 2  The brief second scene takes place inside the castlе, where Manrico is preparing for two great events—the coming attack by Di Luna's forces and his marriage to Leonora. In a soothing aria, he quiets his beloved's fear. A moment later, just after the sound of the organ is heard, Ruiz bursts in. He is Manrico's lieutenant, and be reports that the pyre on which Azucena is to be burned to death is already lighted. Immediately Manrico orders a sortie to rescue his mother, and he sings the stirring aria Di quella pira, usually translated^ though not very accurately, as "Tremble, ye tyrants!"


Scene 1 Outside the prison tower of the palace of Aliaferia comes Leonora to bewafl the loss of Manrico, who has been taken prisoner in battle and is soon to be beheaded. A chorus of monks inside the prison tower intones the Miserere, a prayer for those about to depart this earth. Manrico sings his own farewell to life and Leonora, accompanying himself on his lute, and Leonora gives voice to her terror over the dreadful event about to take place. It is one of the most memorabte 一as well as one of the most hackneyed—numbers in all opera.

The Count now enters, and Leonora pleads for the life of her lover, even offering herself as a sacrifice for him. Overjoyed, the Count agrees to this bargain, but Leonora secretly takes poison from her ring so that she will not fall into the hands of the man she hates.


Scene 2 Inside the prison we find Azucena resting on a pallet of straw, while Manrico tries to comfort her, singing of the mountain home to which they shall return. This is the melodious duet Ai nostri monti—"Home to Our Mountains."

Now Leonora comes and urges him to flee by himself. Fearing that Leonora has made a dishonorable bargain with the Count, Manrico is at first terribly angry; out as the poison begins to take effect, he understands what has happened. During their duet, Azucena lies quietly on her pallet, half out of her mind, and continues to sing of their old mountain home.


Just as Leonora dies, the Count enters and sees at once that Ъе has been tricked. He orders Manrico's immediate еxecution and then pulls Azucena to the window to see the death of her supposed son. Turning violently on him, she now cries: Egli era tuo fratello! - 'He was your brother!' And as she adds a triumphant cry of vengeance, the curtain descends to the crashing of tragic orchestral chords.


Some musical numbers

Mal reggendo all'aspro assalto -Il Trovatore / Levine, Milnes, Marton, Pavarotti, Metropolitan Opera (1988)

Luciano Pavarotti - Di quella pira - Metropolitan Opera

Roberto Alagna & Mzia Niordze Il Trovatore "Ai nostri monti"

Il Trovatore Azucena Manrico Duet Non son tuo figlio
Conductor: Zubin Mehta
Jorge de León as Manrico
Ekaterina Semenchuk as Azucena

il trovatore Che! Non M'inganna Quel Fioco Lume (FINAL) Pavarotti, Marton, Milnes, Zajick

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