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, 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". Today, in its Italian version, it is given very frequently and is a staple of the standard operatic repertoire.
As Il trovatore
The opera's immense popularity, with some 229 productions worldwide in the three years following its premiere, 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".
Today, almost all performances use the Italian version and its popularity is illustrated by appearing at number 21 on the Operabase list of the most-performed operas worldwide from the 2007/08 season to the end of the 2011/2012 season.
As le trouvère
After the successful presentation of the opera in Italian in Paris, François-Louis Crosnier, director of l'Opéra de Paris, proposed that Verdi revise his opera for the Paris audience as a grand opera, which would include a ballet, to be presented on the stage of the major Paris house. While Verdi was in Paris with Giuseppina Strepponi from late July 1855, working on the completion of Aroldo and beginning to prepare a libretto with Piave for what would become Simon Boccanegra, he encountered some legal difficulties in dealing with Toribio Calzado, the impresario of the Théâtre des Italiens, and, with his contacts with the Opėra, agreed to prepare a French version of Trovatore on 22 September 1855.
A translation of Cammarano's libretto was made by librettist Émilien Pacini under the title of Le trouvère and it was first performed at La Monnaie in Brussels on 20 May 1856. There followed the production at the Paris Opera's Salle Le Peletier on 12 January 1857 after which Verdi returned to Italy. Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie attended the latter performance.
For the French premiere, Verdi made some changes to the score of Le trouvère including the addition of music for the ballet in act 3 which followed the soldiers' chorus, where gypsies danced to entertain them. The quality of Verdi's ballet music has been noted by scholar Charles Osborne: "He could have been the Tchaikovsky of Italian ballet" he states, continuing to praise it as "perfect ballet music". In addition, he describes the unusual practice of Verdi having woven in themes from the gypsy chorus of act 2, ballet music for opera rarely connecting with the themes of the work. Several other revisions focused on Azucena's music, including an extended version of the finale of act 4, to accommodate the role's singer Adelaide Borghi-Mamo. Some of these changes have even been used in modern performances in Italian.
Rarely given in French, it was presented as part of the 1998 Festival della Valle d'Itria  and in 2002 Le trouvère appeared as part of the Sarasota Opera's "Verdi Cycle" of all the composer's work.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere cast,
19 January 1853
(Conductor: – )
|Revised version in French
12 January 1857
(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|
Act 1: The Duel
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"). Many years ago a gypsy was wrongfully accused of having bewitched the youngest of the di Luna children; the child had fallen sick and for this the gypsy had been burnt alive as a witch over her protests of innocence. Dying, she had commanded her daughter Azucena to avenge her, which she did by abducting the baby. 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 his firstborn, the new 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 due to his political affiliations and challenges him to a duel over their common love. 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
From act 2. Sung by Gabriella Besanzoni in 1920.
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The gypsies sing the Anvil Chorus: Vedi le fosche notturne / "See! The endless sky casts off her sombre nightly garb.."). Azucena, the daughter of the Gypsy burnt by the count, is still haunted by her duty to avenge her mother. (Aria: Stride la vampa / "The flames are roaring!"). The Gypsies break camp while Azucena confesses to Manrico that after stealing the di Luna baby she had intended to burn the count's little son along with her mother, but overwhelmed by the screams and the gruesome scene of her mother's execution, she became confused and threw 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 intent.
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 Di Luna and his army are attacking the fortress where Manrico has taken refuge with Leonora (Chorus: Or co' dadi ma fra poco / "Now we play at dice"). Ferrando drags in Azucena, who has been captured wandering near the camp. When she hears di Luna’s name, Azucena’s reactions arouse suspicion and Ferrando recognizes her as the murderer of the count’s brother. Azucena cries out to her son Manrico to rescue her and the count realizes that he has the means to flush his enemy out of the fortress. He orders his men to build a pyre and burn Azucena before the walls.
Scene 2: A chamber in the castle Inside the castle, Manrico and Leonora are preparing to be married. She is frightened; the battle with di Luna is imminent and Manrico’s forces are outnumbered. He assures her of his love (Aria, Manrico: Ah si, ben mio coll'essere / "Ah, yes, my love, in being yours"), even in the face of death. When news of Azucena’s capture reaches him, he summons his men and desperately prepares to attack (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
Manrico has failed to free Azucena and has been imprisoned himself. Leonora attempts to free him (Aria: D'amor sull'ali rosee / "On the rosy wings of love"; Chorus & Duet: Miserere / "Lord, thy mercy on this soul") by begging 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
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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 has heard Leonora's last words and orders Manrico's execution. Azucena awakes and tries to stop Di Luna. Once Manrico is dead, she cries: Egli era tuo fratello! Sei vendicata, o madre. / "He was your brother... You are avenged, oh mother!".
Enrico Caruso once said that all it takes for successful performance of Il trovatore is the four greatest singers in the world. 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. 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.
- Budden, Vol. 2, p. 65
- Budden, Vol. 2, p. 66
- 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.
- Pitou, p. 1333.
- Budden, p. 107.
- Forbes, Elizabeth. "Borghi-Mamo [née Borghi], Adelaide" in Sadie, 1: 549.
- Holden, p. 993.
- "Opera Statistics". Operabase. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
- Pitou, p. 1333
- Osborne, C. (1977), p. 259
- Budden, pp. 107–111.
- Pitou, pp. 158–159.
- List of recordings in all languages on operadis-opera-discography.org Retrieved 28 March 2013
- Sarasota Opera repertoire of Verdi operas presented
- List of singers taken from Budden, p. 58.
- List of singers taken from Pitou, p. 1335.
- The synopsis is adapted from Melitz (1921), pp. 363–363, and Osborne (1977), pp. 251–255.
- Osborne (2007) p. 502.
- Grover-Friedlander, p. 33.
- Marcus, p. 182.
- Budden, Julian (1984). The Operas of Verdi: 2. From Il Trovatore to La Forza del destino. London: Cassell. ISBN 978-0-19-520068-3 (hardcover); ISBN 978-0-19-520450-6 (paperback).
- Grover-Friedlander, Michal (2005). Vocal Apparitions: The Attraction of Cinema to Opera. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-12008-9. Preview at Google Books.
- Holden, Amanda, editor (2001). The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam. ISBN 978-0-14-029312-8.
- Marcus, Millicent Joy (1986). Italian Film in the Light of Neorealism. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-10208-5. Preview at Google Books.
- Melitz, Leo (1921). The Opera Goer's Complete Guide. OCLC 5128391 and 1102264. View at Google Books.
- Osborne, Charles (1977). The Complete Operas of Verdi. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-80072-6.
- Osborne, Charles (2007). The Opera Lover's Companion. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-12373-9. Preview at Google Books.
- Pitou, Spire (1990). The Paris Opéra: An Encyclopedia of Operas, Ballets, Composers, and Performers. Growth and Grandeur, 1815–1914. New York: Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-26218-0.
- Sadie, Stanley, editor (1992). The New Grove Dictionary of Opera (4 volumes). London: Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-56159-228-9.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Il trovatore|
- Il trovatore: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Recordings of Il trovatore rated
- Aria database
- Further Il trovatore discography
- San Diego OperaTalk! with Nick Reveles: Il Trovatore
- Il trovatore at the Internet Movie Database