Trovatore, Il (The Troubadour)
  • Giuseppe Verdi. Dramma in four parts. 1853.
  • Libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, completed by Leone Emanuele Bardare, after the play El trovador (The Troubadour) by Antonio García Gutiérrez.
  • First performance at the Teatro Apollo, Rome, on 19th January 1853.
CHARACTERS
Il Conte di Luna, a young noble in the service of the Prince of Aragon baritone
Leonora, a lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Aragon soprano
Azucena, an old gypsy woman mezzo-soprano
Manrico, an officer in the army of Prince Urgel and
supposed son of Azucena tenor
Ferrando, an officer in the Count di Luna's army bass
Ines, attendant and confidante of Leonora soprano
Ruiz, a soldier in Manrico's service tenor
An Old Gypsy bass
A Messenger tenor

The four parts of the opera have the titles The Duel, The Gypsy, The Gypsy's Son and The Execution. Ferrando tells the story of the revenge taken by a gypsy for the death of her mother, the apparent destruction in the fire of the son of the old Count di Luna. In the palace gardens Leonora waits for her lover, the troubadour Manrico, mistaking the Count di Luna, who also loves her, for him, an error that ends with a duel between the two men. At the gypsy camp Azucena tells Manrico the story of the abduction of the son of the Count di Luna and admits that she threw the wrong baby on the fire, keeping, as her own, the Count's son. He tells her how he was held back from killing the young Count, in their duel. News comes that Leonora, thinking Manrico dead, is to enter a convent, a step that the Count seeks to prevent. The arrival of Manrico, with his men, allows him to take Leonora away with him. Azucena is captured by the Count's men, who are preparing to attack Castellor, Manrico's stronghold. In the castle the planned marriage of Manrico and Leonora is interrupted by news of Azucena's capture. Imprisoned by the Count, Manrico and Azucena are threatened with death, while Leonora seeks to save her lover, offering herself in return, although she has secretly taken poison. In the prison Azucena reveals to Manrico his parentage, as a son of the old Count and brother to his enemy. Leonora comes to bring news of Manrico's release, and dies, while the Count orders the immediate execution of Manrico, watched by Azucena, who has her final triumphant revenge when she reveals to the Count the identity of his victim.

Il trovatore (The Troubadour) followed close upon the success of Verdi's Rigoletto and was to be followed by La traviata (The Fallen Woman). It retains its place as a major element in Italian opera repertoire, in spite of the improbabilities of a plot in which Azucena might seem to have suffered a confusion of mind worthy of Miss Prism. This lack of verisimilitude is forgotten in the dramatic strength of the music. Ferrando's narrative, Di due figli vivea padre felice (There lived once a happy father of two boys), sets the opening. The second scene allows Leonora her Tacea la notte placida (Silent was the night), as she tells Ines of when she first heard Manrico's serenade, Deserto sulla terra (Deserted on the earth). The second act starts with the famous Anvil Chorus, Vedi! Le fosche notturne (See! The darkness of night goes), as the gypsies in their encampment start their day, a chorus that has its third part parallel in the song of the Count's soldiers, Or co' dadi (Now we gamble). The second act also brings Azucena's powerful account of her mother's death, Stride la vampa (The fire roars). She has her moments again when she is interrogated by the Count, as his prisoner, Giorni poveri vivea (There in poverty) and Deh! Rallentate o barbari (Ah! Cruel men, loosen these chains), and in her final scene with Manrico. For Leonora herself there is the moving D'amor sull'ali rosee (Love, fly on rosy wings), as she hears the Miserere from within the castle, where Manrico is held prisoner, and her final scene with Manrico.