Count di Luna and Manrico, the Troubadour, are both in love with Leonora. Manrico's love is returned. How far is Count di Luna willing to go to possess Leonora's love?
Ferrando tells the soldiers what happened to the di Luna family long ago. An old gypsy woman bewitched di Luna’s baby brother, who fell ill. The gypsy was burned at the stake and told her daughter to avenge her. The daughter ran away with the baby boy and threw him on the fire. The old Count di Luna told his son on his deathbed to find the gypsy woman and avenge her.
The new Count di Luna is in love with Leonora but has a rival, a troubadour. Leonora, who's in love with Manrico, the Troubadour, believes that he's been killed and decides to enter a nunnery.
Manrico's mother Azucena, the daughter of the old gypsy woman, tells him that she's not his real mother but she's always loved him as her own. He also learns that Leonora has decided to join a convent and he rushes off. Upon finding Leonora, he manages to save her from being abducted by the Count.
Azucena is lurking near di Luna's camp. Di Luna and his men find out that she is Manrico’s mother and that she killed Manrico, the Count’s brother. They decide to burn her at the stake. Manrico learns about this and attempts so save her but is himself captured and put in prison. There he awaits execution together with his mother.
Leonora arrives and tries to save him. She makes a promise to the Count that if he lets Manrico escape she will be the Count’s mistress. Manrico doesn’t want to escape without Leonora. She reveals that she has taken poison because she would rather die than be with Count di Luna. The Count orders that Manrico be decapitated. Then Azucena tells him: Manrico was your brother.
Opera in 4 parts
Sung in Italian
About 2 hours 20 min + intervals
A hall in the palace of Aliaferia, Zaragoza, Spain
Ferrando, Captain in Count di Luna’s army, orders the soldiers to keep watch while the Count spends the night under the balcony of the woman he loves, Leonora. He's eager to prevent his rival, the Troubadour, from meeting her.
The soldiers ask Ferrando to tell them the story of Garcia, the Count’s brother. The old Count di Luna, says Ferrando, had two sons. One morning the nurse who slept by the younger son’s cradle, woke up and found a gypsy woman by the side of the cradle. The nurse screamed and the servants came running and chased the woman away. Shortly afterwards the baby had a fever and became pale and languid. He was bewitched, they thought. They tracked down the witch, seized her and burned her at the stake. The gypsy’s daughter avenged her mother by running away with the baby and they found, on the very spot where the gypsy had burned, the bones of a child.
The old Count di Luna died shortly afterwards but told his older son on his deathbed that he believed the baby was alive and made him swear to keep searching. But he had searched in vain. Some people believe that the mother’s soul still lives on earth and has been seen at night. All the listeners are horrified.
The garden of the palace
It’s night and thick clouds obscure the moon. Leonora bemoans that she hasn’t seen her beloved for several days. Her confidante, Ines, asks how they met. Leonora tells her that there was a tournament where an unknown knight in black armour and helmet was competing. She placed the wreath of victory on his head. Since then the civil war flared up and she never saw him again. But several years later she was lying in her bed and heard the sound of a lute and the voice of a troubadour – and he spoke her name! She ran to the balcony and there he was, her mystery knight! Try to forget him, says Ines, but Leonora is enraptured and won’t listen to her. They walk into the palace.
The Count enters, still hoping to meet Leonora. Then he hears the Troubadour in the distance and trembles with jealousy. Leonora comes running towards him and in the darkness she briefly mistakes the Count for the Troubadour. When the Troubadour enters, and the moon emerges from the clouds, Leonora realises her mistake. She tells the Troubadour that he is the one she loves. The Count is furious and demands to know his name. “I am Manrico” he answers. Upon finding out the Troubadour's true identity, The count realises that he's an enemy of war, an outlawed knight sentenced to death. He draws his sword to kill Manrico. Leonora tries in vain to talk the two men out of fighting. They run off to duel and Leonora falls senseless to the ground.
A ruined hut at the foot of a mountain in Biscay
Azucena, the daughter of the gypsy woman who was burned at the stake, is sitting by a fire and Manrico is lying near her on a mattress. He is injured. She is still haunted by the thought of revenge on the di Luna family. She tells Manrico what happened that horrible day, that her mother cried “Avenge me!” She had stolen the Count’s son and was about to throw him into the flames, but got into a delirium, and threw her own son into the flames. Manrico realises that he cannot be Azucena’s son. She claims that she always treated him like a son and saved his life when he was heavily injured on the battlefield. Manrico admits that he loves her as much as she loves him. Azucena wonders why he had spared the Count when they had that duel and Manrico cannot explain. He was about to give him the deathblow, but his arm was mysteriously held back and he heard a voice from heaven crying out: “Do not strike!”
They are interrupted by the arrival of a messenger who gives Manrico a letter. There he reads that their troops have taken Castle Castellor and that the Prince commands him to defend it. He also learns that Leonora has been betrayed into believing Manrico is dead and therefore she is about to take the veil in the convent nearby. Manrico orders the messenger to get him a horse and rushes away. Azucena begs him to stay. He is still too weak after his injuries. But Manrico won’t listen and exits.
The cloister of a convent near Castle Castellor
It is night. Count di Luna, Ferrando and some retainers enter with the intention to abduct Leonora before she goes to the altar. Ferrando warns him to be careful. They hide among some trees. A choir of nuns is heard from inside, while Leonora, Ines and some nuns enter on their way into the cloister. The Count bursts onto the scene and rushes towards Leonora. At that very moment Manrico appears together with Ruiz and a large band of soldiers. The Count is still intent on abducting Leonora but is disarmed by Ruiz's men. Raging the Count watches as Manrico leaves with Leonora.
A military camp
Count Luna and his army are preparing to attack Castle Castellor, where Manrico and Leonora are hiding. Ferrando enters with Azucena, her hands bound. She was found lurking near the camp. She is brought before the Count, who questions her. He asks whether she remembers a child who was stolen some fifteen years ago, and she asks who he is. “The brother of that kidnapped child”. Ferrando notices that she feels frightened and tells the Count that she is the one who burned that child. Realising that Azucena is Manrico’s mother, the Count understands that here is the chance of his life to catch his enemy.
A hall adjoining the chapel at Castle Castellor, with a balcony at the back
Manrico and Leonora are preparing to get married, in spite of the imminent and unavoidable battle with Count di Luna’s forces. Ruiz rushes in and tells them that Azucena has been captured and that they have already lit the pyre. Manrico summons his soldiers and dashes out. The sounds of battle are heard.
A wing of the Aliaferia palace
Manrico was not able to liberate Azucena and was instead imprisoned himself. Leonora enters, searching for the Count, begging him to be merciful to Manrico – to no avail. In a last attempt to save him she offers herself to the Count. “Let the victim escape, then I am yours.” Secretly, though, she takes poison so she will die before the Count can get her.
A horrible prison
Azucena is lying on a rough bed, Manrico is sitting close to her. They are awaiting their execution. Azucena dreams about days gone by. She falls asleep. Leonora enters and tells Manrico that he is free. Go quickly, she says, but Manrico won’t go without her. It dawns on him that Leonora has sold herself to the Count and he condemns her. She falls to the floor and says she is dying. The poison has taken effect more quickly than she thought. Manrico is filled with regret when he realises how much she loves him.
The Count enters and understands that he has been betrayed. He orders Manrico to be taken to the block. Azucena awakes and asks for Manrico. “He is going to his death”, says the Count triumphantly. “Wait! Listen to me!” begs Azucena, but it is too late. Manrico is dead. And Azucena says “He was your brother!” Her final words are ”You are avenged, o mother!”
Count di Luna – Baritone (dramatic)
A nobleman in the service of the Prince of Aragon
Manrico – Tenor (spinto)
A troubadour and officer in the army of the Prince of Urgel
Azucena – Mezzo-soprano (contralto)
A gypsy, supposedly Manrico's mother
Leonora – Soprano (dramatic coloratura)
A noble lady, in love with Manrico and courted by di Luna
Ferrando – Bass (lyric)
Di Luna's officer
Ines - Soprano
Ruiz - Tenor
An old gypsy – Bass
A messenger - Tenor
Place of birth: Le Roncole, Italy
Place of death: Milan, Italy
Verdi is one of our most beloved opera composers with hits like Rigoletto, Aida and Falstaff. He was a very productive composer, writing nearly 30 operas spanning from 1839 to 1893.
In his twenties tragic events unfolded when Verdi lost his two children in infancy and shortly thereafter his first wife. He remarried years later to the renowned soprano Giuseppina Strepponi who became his life companion.
Verdi is known for modernising Italian opera by writing long passages of through-composed music and unifying acts for a more continuous dramatic development. This is more noticeable in his later works. He came to dominate the opera scene after an era of bel canto composers such as Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini.
“To copy the truth can be a good thing, but to invent the truth is better, much better. ”
Verdi was a food lover, adored Shakespeare and the only piece of chamber music he wrote was a string quartet.
Verdi and Wagner were born in the same year. They were known to be rivals even though they never met.
Most prominent operas
I masnadieri 1847
Luisa Miller 1849
Il trovatore 1853
La traviata 1853
I vespri Siciliani 1855
Simon Boccanegra 1857
Un ballo in maschera 1859
La forza del destino 1862
Don Carlo 1867
Salvadore Cammarano was an Italian librettist and playwright most known for writing the libretto for Lucia di Lammermoor. Cammarano also wrote a few librettos for Verdi, Luisa Miller and Il trovatore being his most successful. Unfortunately Cammarano died before finishing Il trovatore and the libretto was completed by Leone Emanuele Bardare.
2d1, 2, 2, 2 - 4, 2, 3, 1
timp, perc, harp, organ, bells, strings
Il trovatore was premiered at Teatro Apollo in Rome in 1853. The opera was a huge success right from the start with about 229 productions played around the world in the next three years.
Today it is one of the top 20 most performed operas worldwide.
Aria - Tacea la notte placida (Leonora)
Vedi le fosche notturne spoglie (Chorus)
Aria - Stride la vampa (Azucena)
Aria - Il balen del suo sorriso (Count di Luna)
Aria – Ah si ben mio... Di quella pira (Manrico)
Aria – D'amor sull'ali rosee (Leonora)
Duet – Mira, di acerbe lagrime (Count di Luna, Leonora)