No less than the great tenor Enrico Caruso is alleged to have said that all Il Trovatore needed was four great principal singers. (He being one of them, no doubt).
When one thinks of Grand Operas, this work by Verdi is a classic example.
The plot is convoluted, with most of the action having occurred before the opera begins. What we see are the repercussions. This opera comes from Verdi’s middle period of writing and had two Librettists, Salvatore Cammarano, who became ill having only completed the first two acts. Verdi asked Leone Emanuele Bardare to complete his opera. This allowed Verdi to tinker with Cammarano’s libretto and added an extra aria for Leonora. Verdi believed the role of Azucena was pivotal to Il Trovatore and planned to name it The Gypsy or La Vendetta, which is of particular interest to me because I have always thought she is pivotal to this opera and certainly the most interesting. I saw Il Trovatore three times with my father in London and though each time was a wonderful experience, it was the role of Azucena and her glorious arias that stayed with me. We were also fortunate to see Placido Domingo sing the role of Manrico twice. I was in Vernon when the live feed from the Metropolitan Opera was broadcast, therefore I availed myself of the production then. I am looking forward with glee to see it again.
Although the synopsis is, as I have indicated, somewhat convoluted I love this opera.
In my opinion, no other Italian composer comes closer with Grand Opera than Verdi. His music just soars. You will be saying to yourself time and again as you recognize pieces of music, “Oh! So, that’s where it comes from.”
Il Trovatore starts at 1 pm this Saturday, June 4, at the Roxy. It is two and a half hours long and has two intermissions.