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Il Trovatore

Giuseppe Verdi 1813-1901

Opera in four parts
Libretto by Salvadore Cammarano after Antonio García Gutiérrez' play El trovador (1836)
First performed January 19 1853, Teatro Apollo, Rome
A co-production with the Royal Opera House Covent Garden London

Sung in Italian with German surtitles
ca. 3 hours, including 1 interval
an introductory talk, in German, begins in the upstairs foyer 30 minutes before every performance  

Conductor Jader Bignamini
Conte di Luna Brian Mulligan / Tassis Christoyannis
Leonora Elza van den Heever / Leah Crocetto
Azucena Tanja Ariane Baumgartner / Ewa Płonka
Manrico Piero Pretti / Alfred Kim
Ferrando Kihwan Sim / Simon Bailey
Ines Alison King*
A Gypsy Thesele Kemane*
Ruiz Theo Lebow

*Member of the Opera Studio

Background Early 15th century Spain was rocked by battles for the crown of Aragon. Count Luna fights for the king, Manrico for the rebels. 15 years ago Luna's father had a gypsy burned as a witch. Her daughter took revenge by stealing Luna's younger brother, burning to death, in a moment of madness, her own child and raising the abducted boy (Manrico). Part I – The Duel While waiting for their master to return Luna's captain, Ferrando, tells the story of the Count's family and the gipsy. Before his father died he made Luna swear to search for his brother, who he was sure was still alive. Luna loves Leonora, who has lost her heart to Manrico. When Luna approaches the voice of the unknown knight who has been serenading Leonora can be heard. Leonora, in the dark, rushes into Luna's arms. She realises her mistake when Manrico appears, calming him down with promises of love. The two rivals intend to fight this out. Manrico beat Luna but an inner voice stopped him from killing him. The count thrashes Manrico's troups. Manrico is left for dead, and nursed back to health by Azucena. Part 2– The Gipsy Azucena tells Manrico, who she has not seen for a long time, about her mother and the stolen child. Manrico hears that Leonora, believing him dead, intends to take the veil. Ruiz and his men prevent the count and his soldiers from abducting Leonora, who escapes from the convent with Manrico. Part 3 – The Gipsy's Son Luna plans to attack Manrico's troups. Azucena was recognised and arrested by his men. Luna is delighted when he finds out that Manrico is her son. Manrico tries to dispel Leonora's forebodings. When he hears that his mother is to be executed he rushes off to free her. Manrico's troups are defeated. Leonora and Ruiz escape. Manrico and Azucena are imprisoned and sentenced to death. Part 4 – The Execution Leonora's begs Luna spare Manrico, but only when she promises to give herself to him does he agree to let Manrico go. She takes poison and begs Manrico to flee, alone. He refuses, thinking she has betrayed his love. Leonora dies in his arms, Luna has Manrico executed. Azucena is revenged: witnessing the death of one brother and denouncing the other for murdering his own sibling.

A woman traumatised by seeing her mother being burned alive became so hysterical that she mixed up two children, throwing her own onto the fire. The story of two brothers who, ignorant of one another, love the same woman, is no less tragic. In order to tell the bizzare storyline and take the contradictions in the story seriously, David Bösch and his team show everything: an Azucena, driven by vindictiveness, a Leonora who, for love's sake, chooses suicide, a Manrico who, mad with jealousy, accuses dying Leonora of unfaithfulness and a Luna, driven by hate and unaware of their backgrounds, kills his own brother.

Il trovatore has polarised audiences ever since it was first performed in 1853: questioning the horror in the confusing tale on one hand - witches are burned, children stolen, novices abducted, poison taken and executions carried out - applause and joy for the belcanto numbers and rousing choruses on the other. Although the protagnists react as victims of madness, hate, jealousy, love and revenge, Il trovatore is still one of Verdi's most popular operas.