Opera Scotland

Trovatore Il Trovatore; The Troubadour

Music
Giuseppe Verdi (born Busseto, 10 October 1813; died Milan, 27 January 1901)

Text
Salvadore Cammarano, amended by Leone Emanuele Bardare.

Source
Play El Trovador (1836) by Antonio Garcia Gutiérrez (1813-1884).

Premieres
First performance: Rome (Teatro Apollo), 19 January 1853.
First UK performance: London (Covent Garden), 10 May 1855.
First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Theatre Royal), 21 January 1856.
Scottish Opera première: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 22 January 1986.

Background
From its first performance there was never any doubt of this opera’s great success, and it swept the world very quickly. In the nineteenth century no season seemed complete without Trovatore, and it has maintained its popularity with great consistency ever since, despite frequent criticism of the implausibilities of the plot. It was frequently parodied, whether by Gilbert, with his frequent use of the idea of babies swapped at birth, or later by the Marx Brothers in their film A Night at the Opera. More than any other of Verdi’s works it is characterised by a driving energy which makes the performance pass at breakneck speed. It contains an astonishing number of memorable tunes, whether long arching arias for the romantic trio, or dramatic outpourings by Azucena, a fascinatingly powerful character. The choruses for gypsies and soldiers are equally memorable.

Main Characters
Ferrando, captain of the guard, an old retainer of Luna (bass)
Leonora (soprano)
Inez, her confidante (soprano)
Count Di Luna, a young Aragonese noble (baritone)
Manrico, a rebel leader (tenor)
Azucena, a gypsy, believed to be Manrico’s mother (mezzo-soprano)
Ruiz, a soldier in Manrico’s service (tenor)

Plot Summary
The opera, set in northern Spain, in the early 15th century, has as its background a civil war between the King of Aragon and rebel forces under Urgel. Duchess Leonora is lady-in-waiting to the Queen, and Luna is the leader of the Aragonese army. He loves Leonora, but she is more interested in a mysterious man who serenades her at night. This is Manrico, and he and Luna have a furious argument over Leonora. Up in the mountains at a gypsy camp, Manrico, wounded in the fight with Luna, and unable to understand his own urge to spare the Count's life, is being nursed by his mother, Azucena. She is haunted by memories of the burning, years earlier, of her mother, at the hands of the present Count’s father. In revenge, she had stolen the count’s baby son, and when the ashes of the pyre cooled, a baby’s skeleton was found. The old count never recovered, and his surviving son has remained obsessed by this event.

Leonora, believing Manrico dead, decides to take the veil, but is prevented by Luna and his men, and then in turn rescued by Manrico and his troops. The marriage preparations for Manrico and Leonora are interrupted by the news that Azucena has been caught and recognised. She is to be burned on Luna’s orders. Manrico’s rescue attempt fails and they end in the same prison cell. Leonora agrees to marry Luna if she can see Manrico once more. He agrees, but she takes poison and dies in Manrico’s arms. Luna has Manrico executed, and Azucena now reveals that the burned baby was her own child, and Manrico was therefore Luna’s own brother. Azucena’s mother has been avenged.

The Cast

Azucena
 a Biscayan gypsy woman
Count di Luna
 a young noble of Aragon
Dancer
 
Ferrando
 captain of Di Luna's guard
Inez
 confidante of Leonora
Leonora
 a Duchess, lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Aragon
Manrico
 a chieftain under the Prince of Biscay
Messenger
 
Old Gypsy
 
Ruiz
 a soldier in Manrico's service

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