Conductor: Gianandrea Noseda Leonora: Lianna Haroutounian Manrico: Francesco Meli Count di Luna: Željko Lučić Azucena: Ekaterina Semenchuk Ferrando: Maurizio Muraro Ines: Jennifer Davis Ruiz: David Junghoon Kim Old Gipsy: Jonathan Fisher Messenger: Douglas Telfer Chorus: Royal Opera Chorus Concert Master: Sergey Levitin Orchestra: Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
The Count di Luna loves Leonora, but she loves Manrico, the Count’s military enemy. Manrico’s mother Azucena tells him how her mother was burnt to death for supposed witchcraft against the Count’s baby brother. Azucena intended to throw the baby onto the fire – but blinded by revenge she lost her own child to the flames.
The Count captures Manrico and Azucena. Leonora promises herself to him if he will give them their freedom, but secretly takes poison. Leonora dies in Manrico’s arms. The Count has Manrico executed. Azucena reveals that her mother is finally avenged: the Count has murdered his own brother.
Verdi wrote Il trovatore hot on the heels of Rigoletto, and its premiere came a scant two months before that of La traviata. But Il trovatore, while no less popular than its neighbours, is quite different. Verdi himself had suggested the source material, Antonio García Gutiérrez’s play El trovador (1836), to his librettist Salvatore Cammarano. He encouraged Cammarano to pursue the same cross-genre developments Verdi had introduced in Rigoletto, writing in an early letter ‘if the entire opera were, let’s say, a single piece, I would find it more reasonable and just’. As it happens, the end result is highly formal in structure, and seems to look back before the innovations of Rigoletto – but audiences since the opera’s premiere have been captivated by its great dramatic concision and energy.
Il trovatore is probably best known for its ‘gypsy’ music – the Anvil Chorus, Azucena’s ‘Stride la vampa’ and Manrico’s heroic ‘Di quella pira’ are key examples. But Verdi wrote wonderful music for all four of his leads, with the ‘aristocratic’ ‘Il balen del suo sorriso’ for the Count, and Leonora’s prayer ‘D’amor sull’ali rosee’ among a host of thrilling ensembles and chorus numbers. German director David Bösch, celebrated for his theatrical productions for Munich and Frankfurt among others, makes his UK debut with this new production for The Royal Opera. The opera’s themes of jealousy, revenge and love play out against a hauntingly beautiful, wintry landscape that has been riven by war.