Giuseppe Verdi’s masterful opera “Il Trovatore”
Prima Donna Events presents “Il Trovatore”, this resounding Giuseppe Verdi Classic on Sunday 22 October at 3pm in Capitole Ghent and Tuesday 24 October at 8pm in Concertgebouw Bruges. Balance on the edge of your seat when the rock-solid international top cast, possessed of passion, belt out arias such as ‘Di quella Pira’ and ‘Stride la Vampa’, or the world-famous ‘Gypsy Chorus’. Crackling with intrigue, love, jealousy and goosebump moments, this opera will delight devoted Verdi fans and opera novices alike.
A not-to-be-missed firework of music and song!
22 October 2023 in Ghent and 24 October 2023 in Bruges.
Photos from the stage
The famous Giuseppe Verdi
The famous Giuseppe Verdi (1813 – 1901) was one of Italy’s greatest opera composers, with no fewer than 26 works to his credit. When the curtain fell after the Roman premiere of Verdi’s ‘Il Trovatore’ (‘The Troubadour’) in 1853, bravi blared through the hall. A classic was born and was later immortalised by catchy performances by divas such as Maria Callas and Leontyne Price. The opera is known to be extremely demanding vocally for the soloists. The conductor Toscanini once said, “You just need the four best singers there are”.
Spain circa 1410. Count Di Luna has a crush on court lady Leonora, but her heart is actually beating for the mysterious rebel and troubadour Manrico. After a late-night mistake, a duel without a victor ensues between the two men. Meanwhile, a civil war rages through the country and Manrico is badly injured. Manrico’s mother, the gypsy Azucena, tells him the crazy story of her mother being condemned to the stake for witchcraft by Di Luna’s father. Desperate for revenge, Azucena kidnapped a child of the count, but in her confusion she killed her own child. Then Manrico learns that his great love Leonora is moving into the convent because she suspects his death. He wants to stop her, but runs into Count Di Luna. Leonora still flees into the sunset with Manrico, but he learns that the horrible count has captured his mother Azucena. Manrico’s brave rescue attempt fails and together mother and son end up in the dungeon.
What next? Confusion, jealousy, hatred and unexpected family ties come together in a whirlwind epic that strings together one plot twist after another. A not-to-be-missed firework of music and song that you will be talking about for a long time to come!
Lyrical drama in four acts
Libretto: Salvatore Cammarano and Leone Emanuele Bardare.
The World Premiere took place on 19 January 1853, at the Teatro Apollo in Rome and was an immediate success!
Duration: 2h50min including intermission
Director: Thilo Reinhardt
Conductor: Igor Chernetski
Orchestra & choir: International soloists & musicians
Set: Karel Spanhak
Costumes: Ulli Kremer
Lighting design: Paul van Laak
A soldier tells his men the gruesome story of the witch who was burnt and whose ghost is said to still roam the forest. Count Luna is in love with the court lady Leonora, but she loves the mysterious troubadour Manrico, a leader of a rebel army. It comes to an uneasy confrontation between the three, after which Count Luna enters into a duel with Manrico. Manrico is victorious, but when he wants to strike the decisive blow, an invisible hand seems to stop him. In Tacea La Notte, Leonora confesses to a friend that she is madly in love.
Not long after this duel, Manrico was badly injured on the battlefield. His mother, the gypsy Azucena, saved his life and tended to his wounds. In the gypsy camp, Azucena tells Manrico the story of her mother who was condemned to the stake for witchcraft by Count Luna, the father of the current count. With her child on her arm, she had watched the gruesome execution. In revenge, she then kidnapped the count’s child. In a kind of psychosis, she threw the child into the fire. But… When she turned around after this horrible deed, she saw the count’s child standing there. She had burnt her own child!
Azucena tells in Condotta Ell era what happened: with her mother’s cry for revenge in mind, she walks with the child to the fire…
Manrico is confused: ls he not her son then? But Azucena reassures him. Then comes bad news for Manrico: Leonora is about to enter the convent because she thinks Manrico died on the battlefield. He wants to stop her. But he is not the only one. Count Luna has the same plan. At the monastery, the two once again meet as rivals. But Leonora flees with Manrico, overjoyed that he is still alive.
Count Luna under Leonora’s spell: Il balen del suo sorriso
The lovers swear each other fidelity at Castellor castle. Then Manrico receives word that the count has captured his mother Azucena. He is determined to rescue her. But alas, Count Luna captures him and puts him in a dungeon with his mother. From his prison, Manrico urges his beloved Leonora to forget him. Meanwhile, a choir of monks sings a Miserere.
The desperate Leonora strikes a deal with the count: she will give herself to him if he releases Manrico. The count agrees and even leaves her alone with Manrico to break the news to him.
Manrico is furious and full of reproach. He will not listen to Leonora’s pleas to embrace freedom. Then Leonora collapses. She had never intended to sell herself to the count and had previously taken poison. But the poison works faster than thought. Leonora dies. Enraged, the count has Manrico executed without trial. Azucena then tells him that he killed his own brother. The opera ends with her jubilant cry Madre, sei vendicata (Mother, you have been avenged)!
A deeper look into history
An old gypsy woman, condemned to the stake, cries out for revenge. Her daughter kidnaps the child of the count responsible for her mother’s death. Soon after, the remains of a child are found among a still smouldering pyre Verdi’s opera II Trovatore is like a well-made Hollywood thriller: too unassuming to pass for Art with a big K, but so masterfully crafted that the work is recognised as a great classic.
Critics have delivered a lot on Verdi’s opera: on the implausible plot, the caricatured characters and the old-fashioned musical forms. Il Trovatore (1853) therefore had the misfortune to be composed between two other masterpieces by Rigoletto (1851) and La Traviata (1853). These very operas by Verdi were remarkably innovative. Why did Verdi return to these old forms of music?
This had to do with the lyricist because with Rigoletto and La Traviata, Verdi worked with a rookie in the business; Francesco Piave. The composer did dare him to toil and sweat until he got what he wanted: new forms of poetry (i.e. new music).
The lyricist of Il Trovatore, however, was a celebrity, the poet Salvadore Cammarano (who also wrote the text for Lucia di Lammermoor). Cammarano was a recognised master of his craft, but preferred to work along the old lines. Moreover, the poet fell ill. He died just before he could complete the text of the opera. Verdi did not morph and after a few adjustments, he set the text as Cammarano had delivered it.
The aria Di quella pira, would have been the last piece Cammarano completed before his death. But miracle or no miracle, the result did not appear to suffer at all from the old-fashioned structure. On the contrary, it seemed as if the fixed pattern was necessary to channel Verdi’s boundless musical energy.
In Il Trovatore, strong rhythms provide great propulsion, with one catchy melody following another including the famous Gypsy Chorus. The audience loved it. The work was a huge success from the start and is still among the most performed operas in the world.