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Giuseppe Verdi (1813 - 1901): Il trovatore (The Troubadour)
Giuseppe Verdi was born at Le Roncole, near Busseto (Parma) in 1813, the son of an inn-keeper. His early musical ambitions were encouraged and he came to owe much to Antonio Barezzi, a merchant in Busseto and his future father-in-law. He married in 1836 but the two children of the marriage died in early childhood, losses followed by the death of their mother in 1840. Study in Milan and employment in Busseto had been coupled with attempts at success in the opera-house, only realised in 1842 with the staging of Nabucco at La Scala, Milan, with the assistance of the singer Giuseppina Strepponi, for many years to be Verdis companion and eventually, in 1859, his wife.
Verdis very successful career as the leading composer of Italian opera of his time spanned a period of some fifty years, culminating in the Shakespearean operas of his old age, Otello and finally, in 1893, Falstaff. Associated in the public mind with Italian unification, his very name an acronym for the new king, Vittorio Emanuele re dItalia, at the insistence of Count Cavour, he became a deputy, but any real political contribution he made to the cause of Italian unity and independence was through his music, notably where dramatic events in his operas matched contemporary political circumstances.
The opera Il trovatore was written in 1852 and first performed at the Teatro Apollo in Rome on 19th January the following year. The text by the conservative Salvatore Cammarano, who had provided Donizetti with the libretto for Lucia di Lammermoor, was based on the play Il trovador by the Spanish romantic writer Antonio García Gutiérrez and was completed, after Cammaranos death in July 1852, by Leone Emanuele Bardare. The opera was given in Paris in Italian in December 1854 at the Théâtre des italiens and in January 1857 a French version was mounted at the Paris Opéra. In order of composition Il trovatore follows Rigoletto and precedes La traviata, on which Verdi was working during the final stages of the composition of Il trovatore.
Toscanini had resigned from La Scala in 1929, after a triumphant tour with the company he had established. The singers he had engaged included the soprano Bianca Scacciati, here partnered by the Milan-born tenor Francesco Merli, whose career at La Scala continued until 1942. The rôle of Azucena is undertaken by a singer of great distinction, Giuseppina Zinetti and that of the Conte di Luna by the great Verdi baritone Enrico Molinari. The performance is conducted by Lorenzo Molajoli, who directed so many of these recordings with the company of La Scala.
Additional operatic excerpts involving Bianca Scacciati, several of them with the tenor Francesco Merli, include the trio from the third act of Verdis I Lombardi alla prima crociata (The Lombards at the First Crusade) first staged at La Scala in 1843, the year after Nabucco. In a cave Giselda tends the wounded Oronte, son of the tyrant of Antioch, joined by her fathers brother and sworn enemy Pagano, as a hermit bringing holy water, the scene accompanied by a solo violin.
Filippo Marchettis opera Ruy Blas, based on the play by Victor Hugo, was first mounted at La Scala in 1869. To take revenge for exile, the villainous courtier Don Sallustio has introduced his valet to the Queen as a nobleman, Don Cesare, in which guise he wins honours and her love. Don Sallustio returns from the exile imposed on him and reveals the dishonour that the Queen has brought on herself. He is killed by Ruy Blas in a duel, an action that restores the latter to royal favour. The love-duet from the third act reveals the true nature of the feelings of Ruy Blas and the Queen.
The Brazilian composer Carlos Gomes opera Il Guarany had its first very successful performance in 1870 at La Scala. Set in mid-sixteenth-century Brazil, it deals with the love of Cecilia, daughter of the Portuguese nobleman Don Antonio, and Peri, son of the native Guarany chieftain. Her father intends to marry her to another, while an unsuccessful suitor, Gonzales, plots against Don Antonio, his plans revealed by Peri, who after saving Cecilia again is entrusted with her safety, while her father destroys himself and his castle, to foil the machinations of Gonzales. The present duet finds Peri and Cecilia first aware of their love for each other.
Catalanis opera Loreley had its first performance at the Teatro Regio in Turin in 1890. By the Rhine in 1300 Walter von Oberwesel is in love with Loreley, but pledged to marry Anna von Rehberg, a pledge he fulfils. Loreley offers herself to the river god Albrich and dives into the water, to emerge more beautiful at Walters wedding. He deserts his bride, who dies, and joins Loreley, eventually to drown in the river to which she has bound herself to return, drawn by ineluctable forces.
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Opera in 4 Acts
Il Conte di Luna
Un vecchio zingaro
Parte Prima: Il Duello
Introduzione: Allerta! Allerta! (Ferrando, Coro)
Di due figli vivea padre beato-Abbietta zingara/ Sullorlo dei tetti (Ferrando, Coro)
Che più tarresti? (Ines, Leonora)
Tacea la notte placida
Di tale amor (Leonora, Ines)
Tace la notte! (Il Conte)
Deserto sulla terra (Manrico, Il Conte)
Non minganno. Ella scende!
Di geloso amor (Il Conte, Leonora, Manrico)
Parte Seconda: La Gitana
Vedi! Le fosche notturne spoglie (Coro)
Stride la vampa! (Azucena)
Mesta è la tua canzon! (Coro, Azucena, Manrico, Un vecchio zingaro)
Soli or siam! (Manrico, Azucena)
Condotta ellera in ceppi (Azucena, Manrico)
Non son tuo figlio? (Manrico, Azucena)
Mal reggendo allaspro assalto (Manrico, Azucena, Un messo)
Tutto è deserto (Il Conte, Ferrando)
Il balen del suo sorriso
Per me, ora fatale (Il Conte, Ferrando, Coro)
Ah! se lerror tingombra (Coro