OPERA NEWS - Metropolitan Opera Broadcast: Il Trovatore
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Metropolitan Opera Broadcast: Il Trovatore

Radio Broadcast of Saturday, January 12, 1:00 P.M.

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The Count is threatened by Manrico and his followers (Vassallo, Gwyn Hughes Jones as Manrico, Yu)
© Johan Elbers 2013

The 2012–13 Metropolitan Opera broadcast season is sponsored by 
Toll Brothers, America's luxury home builder®, with generous long-term support from 
The Annenberg Foundation, The Neubauer Family Foundation,
the Vincent A. Stabile Endowment for Broadcast Media,
and through contributions from listeners worldwide.

Il Trovatore 

Music by Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, based on the play El Trovador
by Antonio García Gutiérrez


THE CAST      (in order of vocal appearance)
Inez     mezzo, EDYTA KULCZAK
Leonora     soprano, PATRICIA RACETTE
Count di Luna     baritone, ALEXEY MARKOV
Manrico     tenor, MARCO BERTI
Azucena     mezzo, STEPHANIE BLYTHE
Gypsy     bass, BRANDON MAYBERRY
Messenger     tenor, DAVID LOWE
Ruiz     tenor, HUGO VERA


The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus

Production: David McVicar
Set designer: Charles Edwards
Costume designer: Brigitte Reiffenstuel
Lighting designer: Jennifer Tipton
Stage director: Paula Williams
Choreographer: Leah Hausman
Chorus master: Donald Palumbo
Musical preparation: Joan Dornemann,
      Howard Watkins, Joshua Greene,
      Ransom Wilson
Assistant stage director: Daniel Rigazzi
Fight director: Nigel Poulton
Prompter: Joan Dornemann
Italian coach: Hemdi Kfir

Production a gift of
      The Annenberg Foundation

Revival a gift of the Metropolitan Opera Club

A coproduction of the Metropolitan Opera,
      Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the San
      Francisco Opera Association 
THE SCENES    Timings (ET) 
ACT I   1:00–
Sc. 1 Aliaferia Palace   
Sc. 2 Palace terrace  
ACT II   –2:17
Sc. 1 Gypsy camp  
Sc. 2 Outside a cloister   
Sc. 3 Inside the cloister  
ACT III   2:49–
Sc. 1 Di Luna's camp  
Sc. 2 Castellor  
ACT IV   –4:00
Sc. 1 A tower of Aliaferia
Sc. 2  Aliaferia prison  

Host: Margaret Juntwait
Commentator: Ira Siff
Music producer: Jay David Saks
Producers: Mary Jo Heath, Ellen Keel, 
      William Berger
Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni,
      Elena Park
For more information on the
      broadcasts, please visit
Send quiz questions to: 
      Metropolitan Opera Quiz 
      Metropolitan Opera
      30 Lincoln Center
      New York, NY 10023
      or e-mail metquiz@metopera.org.
This performance is also being
      broadcast live on Metropolitan Opera
      Radio on SiriusXM channel 74.


ACT I (The Duel). Outside the guardroom of the Aliaferia Palace in Aragon, Count di Luna's soldiers wait to apprehend a troubadour, Manrico, the count's rival for the love of Leonora. Ferrando, captain of the guard, keeps his men awake by telling them the tale of a Gypsy woman burned at the stake years ago for bewitching di Luna's younger brother. The Gypsy's daughter sought vengeance by kidnapping the child and, so the story goes, burning him at the very stake where her mother died. Di Luna still hopes his brother lives.

In the palace gardens, Leonora confides to Inez how at a tournament she placed the victory wreath on the brow of an unknown knight; she saw him no more until he came to serenade her. Leonora declares her love for the handsome stranger. After the women reenter the palace, di Luna arrives to court Leonora just as Manrico's song is heard in the distance. Leonora rushes to greet him. The jealous count challenges Manrico to a duel, and they hurry away.

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Manrico and Azucena (Hughes Jones, Dolora Zajick as Azucena)
© Beth Bergman 2013

ACT II (The Gypsy). As dawn breaks in the Biscay mountains, a band of Gypsies sings at work with hammer and anvil. Azucena — the Gypsy's daughter described by Ferrando — relives her mother's fiery execution. Manrico, weak from wounds sustained in battle, asks to hear her full story. When Azucena, overwhelmed with memories, blurts out that by mistake she hurled her own son into the flames, Manrico asks if he is not her son. She quickly reassures him of a mother's love, making him swear revenge; he recalls that a strange power stayed his hand when he could have killed di Luna in the duel. A messenger brings news that Leonora, thinking Manrico dead, plans to enter a convent. Manrico rushes away.

Di Luna, burning with passion for Leonora, waits by the cloister to kidnap her. When she enters, he steps forward, only to be halted by the sudden appearance of Manrico with his men. As the forces struggle, the lovers escape.

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Azucena is taken prisoner by the Count (Vassallo, Zajick, Morris Robinson as Ferrando)
© Beth Bergman 2013

ACT III (The Gypsy's Son). Di Luna has pitched camp near the bastion of Castellor, where Manrico has taken Leonora. After soldiers sing of their eagerness for victory, Ferrando leads in Azucena, who has been found nearby. The Gypsy describes her poor, lonely life and says she is only searching for her son. Di Luna reveals his identity, at which Azucena, recoiling, is recognized by Ferrando as the supposed murderer of di Luna's baby brother. The count orders her burned at the stake. 

Inside the castle, Manrico tells Leonora her love gives him strength. As the couple prepares to go to the wedding chapel, Manrico's friend Ruiz bursts in to say that Azucena has been seized and tied to a stake. Manrico, horrified by the sight of flames from the distant pyre, runs to his mother's rescue.

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Manrico and Leonora (Hughes Jones, Yu)
© Johan Elbers 2013

ACT IV (The Torture). Ruiz brings Leonora to the captured Manrico's prison tower, where she voices her love for him and prays for his release. Monks are heard intoning a doleful Miserere for the soul of the condemned, while Manrico sings farewell from inside the bastion. Leonora resolves to save him. When di Luna appears, Leonora agrees to yield herself to him in exchange for Manrico's release, then secretly swallows poison.

In their cell, Manrico comforts Azucena, who longs for the mountains. As the old Gypsy falls asleep, Leonora rushes in to tell her lover he is saved. Manrico, comprehending the price of his freedom, denounces her furiously, but as the poison begins to take effect, he realizes the extent of her sacrifice and takes her in his arms as she dies. Di Luna, arriving to find himself cheated of his prize, sends Manrico to the executioner's block, while Azucena staggers to her feet to watch the ax fall. She cries out that her mother is avenged: di Luna has killed his own brother.

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Franco Vassallo as Count di Luna and Guanqun Yu
as Leonora in David McVicar's Metropolitan Opera
staging ofIl Trovatore

© Johan Elbers 2013


As he approached the age of forty, Giuseppe Verdi was an established success. He wrote Il Trovatore without contract or commission, knowing he could negotiate for the theater of his choice. When he had finished the music — in just four to six weeks, it appears — he put it aside and took a prolonged trip to Paris, where he saw the play (La Dame aux Camélias, by Alex­andre Dumas fils) that would become La Tra­viata. He returned upon hearing that his father was ill, a fact doubly upsetting in view of his mother's recent death. Verdi in his new work combined dramatic passions with old-fashioned melody.

The play El Trovador was written in 1836 by Spanish dramatist Antonio García Gutiérrez. The composer first discussed a musical adaptation with his librettist, Salvatore Cammarano, early in 1851; by the summer of 1852, Cammarano had nearly finished the text, but in July he died. Poet L. E. Bardare completed the libretto. Although the plot's chain of events may strain credulity, it was the story's emotional substance that interested Verdi. 

The Roman audience attending the first performance of Il Trovatore, on January 19, 1853, had to wade through mud and water to enter the Apollo Theater, because the Tiber had overflowed its banks. By the time the curtain fell, both the Act III finale and the whole of Act IV had been repeated. Il Trovatore had its first U.S. performance on May 2, 1855, at the New York Academy of Music and reached the Met on October 26, 1883, during the first week of the company's inaugural season. The Met's first Manrico was Roberto Stagno, the matinée-idol tenor who would create Turiddu in Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana some seven years later. 

As of the beginning of the current season, the Metropolitan Opera has presented 614 performances of Il Trovatore; in the Verdi canon, only Aida, La Traviata and Rigoletto have been heard more often by Met audiences. The Met's new staging by David McVicar, a coproduction with Lyric Opera of Chicago and San Francisco Opera, was first seen in Chicago on November 4, 2006. The first Met performance of the McVicar Trovatore was on February 16, 2009. 


Mary Jane Phillips-Matz's Verdi: A Biography (Oxford) remains indispensible for its clarity, erudition and comprehensiveness. John Roselli's The Life of Verdi (Cambridge)is also excellent. Il Trovatore is covered by Julian Budden in Volume II of his peerless The Operas of Verdi (Oxford). The Cambridge Companion to Verdi and The New Grove Guide to Verdi and his Operas (Oxford) are especially instructive for neophyte Verdians. Less conventional in style, but nevertheless engaging, is William Berger's Verdi with a Vengeance: An Energetic Guide to the Life and Complete Works of the King of Opera (Vintage). 

With its plum roles for soprano, tenor, baritone and contralto, Il Trovatore has enjoyed a particularly rich recorded history, beginning with the acoustic era, when performances by artists such as Félia Litvinne, Enrico Caruso, Mattia Battistini and Louise Homer were preserved for posterity. The LP era welcomed several excellent complete performances, led by the 1952 RCA set that captures the sovereign Verdi style of Zinka Milanov, Jussi Björling and Leonard Warren. Warren is a slightly less brilliant di Luna on the 1959 RCA set, led by Arturo Basile, but his is a major-league performance that catches some of the fire of his two costars, the refined, authoritative Richard Tucker and the radiant young Leontyne Price, already an incomparably sumptuous Leonora. A few years later, Price's Leonora was recorded live at the Salzburg Festival, with Franco Corelli, Ettore Bastianini and Giulietta Simionato her dream-team colleagues under Herbert von Karajan's vigorous yet responsive direction (DG).

In the 1969 RCA performance, Price is joined by two young stars then rapidly on the rise — Plácido Domingo and Sherrill Milnes — and the vivid Fiorenza Cossotto, all paced by Zubin Mehta in one of his best studio recordings. James Levine conducts the Met Orchestra to coruscating effect in Sony's 1991 Il Trovatore; Domingo, by then a veteran Manrico, is teamed with Aprile Millo, Dolora Zajick and Vladimir Chernov. Both the Mehta and the Levine recordings open up traditional performance cuts in the score.

On DVD, Zajick's Azucena is joined by Luciano Pavarotti, Milnes and Eva Marton in a 1988 performance of the Metropolitan Opera's then-current Il Trovatore staging by Fabrizio Melano; Levine conducts. Domingo is in superb form in von Karajan's festival-quality 1978 Vienna production (TDK); Raina Kabaivanska, Piero Cappuccilli, José van Dam and Cossotto are his co-stars. Video Trovatores of more recent vintage include Elijah Moshinsky's Covent Garden staging, recorded in 2002 with Carlo Rizzi pacing José Cura and Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Manrico and di Luna (BBC/Opus Arte), and Robert Carsen's less conventional 2006 staging from Bregenz, led by Fabio Luisi (BBC/Opus Arte). spacer 

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