Il trovatore

Il trovatore

Il trovatore (The Troubadour) is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, based on the play El Trovador (1836) by Antonio García Gutiérrez. Cammarano died in mid-1852 before completing the libretto. This gave the composer the opportunity to propose significant revisions, which were accomplished under his direction by the young librettist Leone Emanuele Bardare,[1] and they are seen largely in the expansion of the role of Leonora.

The opera was first performed at the Teatro Apollo, Rome, on 19 January 1853 where it "began a victorious march throughout the operatic world".[2] Today it is given very frequently and is a staple of the standard operatic repertoire. It appears at number 23 on the Operabase list of the most-performed operas worldwide.[3]


Performance history

The opera's immense popularity, with some 229 productions worldwide in the following three years,[4] is illustrated by the fact that "in Naples, for example, where the opera in its first three years had eleven stagings in six theaters, the performances totaled 190".[4]

It was first performed in Paris in Italian on 23 December 1854 by the Théâtre-Italien at the Salle Ventadour.[5] The cast included Lodovico Graziani as Manrico and Adelaide Borghi-Mamo as Azucena.[6][7] A French version translated by E. Milien Pacini and called Le trouvère was first performed at La Monnaie in Brussels on 20 May 1856 and at the Paris Opera's Salle Le Peletier on 12 January 1857. The Emperor and Empress attended the latter performance.[5] Verdi made some changes to the score for the French premiere of Le trouvère including the addition of music for the ballet in act 3 and several revisions focusing on the music of Azucena, including an extended version of the finale of act 4, to accommodate the role's singer Borghi-Mamo. Some of these changes have even been used in modern performances in Italian.[8][9]

Il trovatore was first performed in the US on 2 May 1855 at the recently-opened Academy of Music in New York while its UK premiere took place on 10 May 1855 at Covent Garden in London.[10]

Today, almost all performances use the Italian version, although in 2002 the French version, Le trouvère appeared as part of the Sarasota Opera's "Verdi Cycle" of all the composer's work, to be completed by 2013.


Role Voice type Premiere cast,
19 January 1853[11]
(Conductor: – )
Revised version in French
(Le trouvère),
12 January 1857[12]
(Conductor: – )
Count di Luna, a nobleman in the service of the Prince of Aragon baritone Giovanni Guicciardi Marc Bonnehée
Manrico, a troubadour and officer in the army of the Prince of Urgel tenor Carlo Baucardé Louis Guéymard
Azucena, a gypsy, supposedly Manrico's mother mezzo-soprano Emilia Goggi Adelaide Borghi-Mamo
Leonora, noble lady, in love with Manrico and courted by Di Luna soprano Rosina Penco Pauline Guéymard-Lauters
Ferrando, Luna's officer bass Arcangelo Balderi Prosper Dérivis
Ines, Leonora's confidante soprano Francesca Quadri Mme Dameron
Ruiz, Manrico's henchman tenor Giuseppe Bazzoli Sapin
An old gypsy bass Raffaele Marconi
A messenger tenor Luigi Fani
Leonora's friends, nuns, the Count's lackeys, warriors, Gypsies


Place: Biscay and Aragon (Spain)
Time: Fifteenth century.[13]

Act 1: The Duel

Scene 1: The guard room in the castle of Luna (The Palace of Aljafería, Zaragoza, Spain)

Ferrando, the captain of the guards, orders his men to keep watch while Count di Luna wanders restlessly beneath the windows of Leonora, lady-in-waiting to the Princess. Di Luna loves Leonora, and is jealous of his successful rival, the troubadour Manrico. In order to keep the guards awake, Ferrando narrates the history of the count to the guard. (Aria: Di due figli vivea padre beato / "The good Count di Luna lived happily, the father of two sons"). It appears that a gypsy had once bewitched the little brother of the count, making the child weak and ill, and for this had been burnt alive as a witch. Dying, she had commanded her daughter Azucena to avenge her, which she did by carrying off the younger brother. Although the burnt bones of a child were found in the ashes of the pyre, the father refused to believe in his son's death; dying, he commanded Count di Luna to seek Azucena.

Scene 2: Garden in the palace of the princess

Leonora confesses her love for Manrico to her confidante, Ines. (Tacea la notte placida / "The peaceful night lay silent"... Di tale amor / "A love that words can scarcely describe"). When they have gone, Count di Luna hears the voice of his rival, Manrico, in the distance: (Deserto sulla terra / "Alone upon this earth"). While Leonora in the darkness mistakes the count for her lover, Manrico himself enters the garden, and she rushes to his arms. The count recognises Manrico as his enemy, who has been condemned to death, and compels him to fight. Leonora tries to intervene, but cannot stop them from fighting (Trio: Di geloso amor sprezzato / "The fire of jealous love" ).

Act 2: The Gypsy Woman

Scene 1: The gypsies' camp

While Manrico sits at the bedside of his mother, Azucena, the gypsies sing the Anvil Chorus: Vedi le fosche notturne / "See! The endless sky casts off her sombre nightly garb.."). She is the daughter of the Gypsy burnt by the count and, although old, still nurses her vengeance. (Aria: Stride la vampa / "The flames are roaring!"). The Gypsies break camp while Azucena confesses to Manrico that after stealing him she had intended to burn the count's little son, but had thrown her own child into the flames instead (Aria: Condotta ell'era in ceppi / "They dragged her in bonds"). Manrico realises that he is not the son of Azucena, but loves her as if she were indeed his mother, as she has always been faithful and loving to him. Manrico tells Azucena that he defeated Di Luna in their duel, but was held back from killing him by a mysterious power (Duet: Mal reggendo / "He was helpless under my savage attack"). A messenger arrives and reports that Leonora, who believes Manrico dead, is about to enter a convent and take the veil that night. Although Azucena tries to prevent him from leaving in his weak state (Ferma! Son io che parlo a te! / "I must talk to you"), Manrico rushes away to prevent her from carrying out this purpose.

Scene 2: In front of the convent

Di Luna and his attendants intend to abduct Leonora and the Count sings of his love for her (Aria: Il balen del suo sorriso / "The light of her smile" ... Per me ora fatale / "Fatal hour of my life"). Leonora and the nuns appear in procession, but Manrico prevents Di Luna from carrying out his plans and instead, takes Leonora away with him.

Act 3: The Son of the Gypsy Woman

Scene 1: Di Luna's camp

(Chorus: Or co' dadi ma fra poco / "Now we play at dice") Di Luna's soldiers bring in the captured Azucena. She is recognised by Ferrando, and Di Luna sentences her to be burnt.

Scene 2: A chamber in the castle

Leonora and Manrico live only for each other. (Aria, Manrico: Ah si, ben mio coll'essere / "Ah, yes, my love, in being yours"). As they are about to take their marriage vows, Ruiz, Manrico's comrade, reports that Azucena is to be burned at the stake. Manrico rushes to her aid (Stretta: Di quella pira l'orrendo foco / "The horrid flames of that pyre"). Leonora faints.

Act 4: The Punishment

Scene 1: Before the dungeon keep

Leonora attempts to free Manrico, who has been captured by Di Luna (Aria: D'amor sull'ali rosee / "On the rosy wings of love"; Chorus & Duet: Miserere / "Lord, thy mercy on this soul"). Leonora begs Di Luna for mercy and offers herself in place of her lover. She promises to give herself to the count, but secretly swallows poison from her ring in order to die before Di Luna can possess her (Duet: Mira, d'acerbe lagrime / "See the bitter tears I shed").

Scene 2: In the dungeon

Manrico and Azucena are awaiting their execution. Manrico attempts to soothe Azucena, whose mind wanders to happier days in the mountains (Duet: Ai nostri monti ritorneremo / "Again to our mountains we shall return"). At last the gypsy slumbers. Leonora comes to Manrico and tells him that he is saved, begging him to escape. When he discovers she cannot accompany him, he refuses to leave his prison. He believes Leonora has betrayed him until he realizes that she has taken poison to remain true to him. As she dies in agony in Manrico's arms she confesses that she prefers to die with him than to marry another. (Quartet: Prima che d'altri vivere / "Rather than live as another's") The count enters to find Leonora dead in his rival's arms and orders Manrico to be led to execution. Azucena arises and when Di Luna shows her the dead Manrico, she cries in triumph: Egli era tuo fratello! / "He was your brother..You are avenged, oh mother!" At the same time as Azucena, the count screams in despair E vivo ancor! / "And I must live on!".

Cultural references

Enrico Caruso once said that all it takes for successful performance of Il trovatore is the four greatest singers in the world.[14] On many different occasions, this opera and its music have been featured in various forms of popular culture and entertainment. Scenes of comic chaos play out over a performance of Il trovatore in the Marx Brothers's film, A Night at the Opera.[15] Luchino Visconti used a performance of Il trovatore at La Fenice opera house for the opening sequence of his 1954 film Senso. As Manrico sings his battle cry in "Di quella pira", the performance is interrupted by the answering cries of Italian nationalists in the audience. In Italian Film in the Light of Neorealism, Millicent Marcus proposes that Visconti used this operatic paradigm throughout Senso, with parallels between the opera's protagonists, Manrico and Leonora, and the film's protagonists, Ussoni and Livia.[16]



Il trovatore / The Troubadour (1853), music by Giuseppe Verdi, libretto by Salvadore Cammarano (completed by Leone Emanuele Bardare), based on Antonio García Gutiérrez’s El trovador / The Troubadour. Critical edition edited by David Lawton. Italian-English piano-vocal score with singable English version by Mark Herman and Ronnie Apter. Ricordi #136183). Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, and Milano: Ricordi, 2002, 368 + XCV pp. ISBN: 88-7592-018-4.


  1. ^ Budden, Vol. 2, p. 65
  2. ^ Budden, Vol. 2, p. 66
  3. ^ "Opera Statistics". Operabase. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Martin, George Whitney (Spring 2005). "Verdi Onstage in the United States: Le trouvère". The Opera Quarterly 21 (2): 282–302. doi:10.1093/oq/kbi018. 
  5. ^ a b Pitou, p. 1333.
  6. ^ Budden, p. 107.
  7. ^ Forbes, Elizabeth. "Borghi-Mamo [née Borghi], Adelaide" in Sadie, 1: 549.
  8. ^ Budden, pp. 107–111.
  9. ^ Pitou, pp. 158–159.
  10. ^ Holden, p. 993.
  11. ^ List of singers taken from Budden, p. 58.
  12. ^ List of singers taken from Pitou, p. 1335.
  13. ^ The plot description is adapted from Melitz (1921), pp. 363–363, and Osborne (1977), pp. 251–255.
  14. ^ Osborne (2007) p. 502.
  15. ^ Grover-Friedlander, p. 33.
  16. ^ Marcus, p. 182.
Cited sources

External links

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  • Trovatore, Il — /il troh veuh tawr ee/; It. /eel traw vah taw rdde/ an opera (1853) by Giuseppe Verdi. * * * …   Universalium

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