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Giuseppe Verdi(1813-1901): Il Trovatore (Highlights)
Verdi's very successful career as the leading composer of Italian operaof his time spanned a period of some fifty years, culminating in theShakespearean operas of his old age, Otello and finally, in 1893, Falstaff.
The opera Il Trovatore was written in 1852, ten years after hisfirst great success with Nabucco, and first performed at the TeatroApollo in Rome on 19th January the following year. The text by the conservativeSalvatore Cammarano was based on the play Il trovador by the Spanishromantic writer Antonio Garcia Gntierrez and was completed, after Cammarano'sdeath in July 1852, by Leone Emanuele Bardare. The opera was given in Paris inItalian in December 1854 at the The?ótre des italiens and in January 1857 aFrench version was mounted at the Paris Opera. In order of composition IlTrovatore follows Rigoletto and precedes La traviata, onwhich Verdi was working during the final stages of the composition of IlTrovatore.
Act I: The Duel
 The scene is the courtyard of the palace of the Count di Luna. It isnight and Ferrando, a captain of the Count's guard, tells his companions to bealert (All'erta! All'erta!), since the Count is jealouslywatching for his unknown rival in the love of Leonora, the mysterioustroubadour. Ferrando goes on to explain how the old Count had two sons (Didue figli vivea padre beato) and how the younger, Garcia, had beenkidnapped. One day a swarthy gypsy woman had been found near the child's cradle(Abbietta zingara, fosca vegliarda!) and had bewitched the boy,who fell ill. The old gypsy woman was seized and burned to death, but the woman's daughtersurvived and seems to have stolen the child, whose charred body was found wherethe witch had been burned. The ghost of the gypsy still haunts the place, it issaid, during the night.
 In the palace gardens, Leonora lingers, remembering the unknownknight whom once she had crowned champion of the tournament, but who haddisappeared when civil war broke out. Once, Leonora tells her attendant, Ines,in the silence of the night, the sound of a lute was heard from her garden andthe sad song of a troubadour (Tacea la notte placida e bella in ciel sereno).
This is the one she loves.
 In spite of the misgivings of Ines, Leonora goes on to tell how shewill live and, if she must, die for this love (Di tale amor che dirsi).
They go together into the palace.
The Count comes into the garden. The sound of the troubadour's song isheard and he shudders in jealousy and wraps his cloak around him, as he hearsLeonora approaching. She, thinking him the troubadour, seeks to embrace him,while Manrico, the troubadour, exclaims on her apparent perfidy.
 The moon emerges from behind the clouds and the troubadour, his facecovered by a visor, comes forward. Leonora realises her mistake (Qual voce!)
and throws herself at his feet, declaring her love for him, to the Count'sjealous rage. At the Count's urging, Manrico reveals himself as a follower ofthe rebel Urgel, and is challenged to a duel.
 The Count rages in jealousy (Di geloso amor sprezzato). Leonoratries to deflect his anger, turning it towards herself, while Manrico bravelydeclares his intention of killing his enemy. Leonora swoons, as the two rivalsrush at each other, with drawn swords.
Act II: The Gypsy
In the foothills of a mountain in Biscay, a fire bums in the gypsyencampment. It is dawn and the old gypsy Azucena sits near the fire, whileManrico lies nearby on a mattress, wrapped in his cloak.
 The gypsies welcome the break of day (Vedi! le fosche notturnespoglie), as they start work, with their anvils, praising the beautyof their women.
 They break off, however, as Azucena begins to recount the story ofher mother's death (Stride la vampa!), the sound of the flamesand her mother's cries, as she was burned to death.
 Left alone with Manrico, Azucena tells him how her mother was led inchains to her fate, followed by Azucena holding her son in her arms (Condottaell'era in ceppi). In vain she tried to stop and bless her daughterand her last words urged her to vengeance. In reply to Manrico's question shegoes on to tell how she seized the Count's son, but in her frenzy threw her ownchild into the flames. Azucena falls back in anguish, and Manrico is silent,struck with horror and surprise at what he has heard. She bids him take revenge. Amessenger appears with the news that Leonora, believing Manrico dead, is toenter a convent. He brings orders for Manrico to lead the defence of Castelloragainst the forces of the Count.
By the cloister of a convent near Castellor, the Count, Ferrando andsome followers enter cautiously through the night, wrapped in their cloaks. TheCount finds all deserted ( Tuffo ?deserto), as he and his menmake their way into the convent, intent on abducting Leonora. The Count recallsthe light of her smile (Il balen del suo sorriso), which conquersreason, of his love and of the tempest in his heart. They hide, as the bellsounds for the coming ceremony. Leonora is resigned to her fate, but as theCount attempts to seize her, Manrico appears, disarms the Count and his men,and rescues her.
Act III: The Gypsy's Son
 In the Count's camp some of the soldiers call for another game (Orco'dadi, ma fra poco / Giocherem ben altro gioco), whileothers see the approach of the reinforcements they had awaited. Ferrandoassures them of certain victory, when the new day dawns. The men await the callto arms (Squilla, eccheggi la tromba guerriera), eager for thespoils of battle.
Azucena is captured by the Count's men and recognized. The Count nowimagines he has the mother of Manrico in his power and can take revenge on herfor the supposed death of his brother.
 In a room adjacent to the chapel of Castellor, Manrico tellsLeonora of the strength his love gives him (Amor...sublime amor): ifit is his fate to be killed in battle with the Count, yet his thoughts willturn to her. The organ is heard from the nearby chapel.
 Ruiz now appears, telling Manrico of the capture and imminent deathof Azucena, whom he declares to be his mother. He can already see the flames inwhich Azucena must die (Di quella pira l'orrendo foco) and feelthem: he must save her. The men are called to arms, to fight or die withManrico, who rushes out, followed by Ruiz and his soldiers. The sound of battleis heard.
Act IV: Torture
Manrico, captured, is imprisoned in the Count's palace. It is night andRuiz and Leonora stand below the tower, from which she hopes to rescue herlover.
 Love, she says, will bring comfort to the mind of the prisoner (D'amorsull'ali rosee...vanne). The sound of the death knell is heard.
 Voices within sing the Miserere (Miserere d'un alma gi?vicina...Alla partenza che non ha ritorno!), praying for mercy onthose about to die. Leonora exclaims on