Troubadour Verdi


Premiere / date of written: 19 January 1853. 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.

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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".

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Today it is given very frequently and is a staple of the standard operatic repertoire. It appears at number 23 on the Operabase list of the most-performed operas worldwide. original libretto line-by-line of the original libretto. Giuseppe Di Stefano, Maria Callas, Fedora Barbieri, Rolando Panerai, Nicola Zaccaria. Franco Corelli, Leontyne Price, Giulietta Simionato, Ettore Bastianini, Nicola Zaccaria. Manrico — Plácido Domingo, Leonora — Leontyne Price, Azucena — Fiorenza Cossotto, Count Di Luna — Sherrill Milnes, Ferrando — Bonaldo Giaiotti, Ines — Elizabeth Bainbridge, Ruiz — Ryland Davies, Un messo — Neilson Taylor, Un vecchio zingaro — Stanley Riley. Manrico — Luciano Pavarotti, Leonora — Antonella Banaudi, Azucena — Shirley Verrett, Count Di Luna — Leo Nucci, Ferrando — Francesco Ellero d'Artegna.

Plácido Domingo, Raina Kabaivanska, Fiorenza Cossotto, Piero Cappuccilli, José van Dam. Manrico — Luciano Pavarotti, Leonora — Éva Marton, Azucena — Dolora Zajick, Count Di Luna — Sherrill Milnes, Ferrando — Jeffrey Wells. Manrico — Marcelo Álvarez, Leonora — Sondra Radvanovsky, Azucena — Dolora Zajick, Count Di Luna — Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Ferrando — Stefan Kocán, Ines — Maria Zifchak, Ruiz — Eduardo Valdes. Sheet Music — Alfredo Edel Colorno's sketch of Manrico's costume for a production at La Scala in 1883. 19 January 1853. Il trovatore ('The Troubadour') is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto largely written by Salvadore Cammarano, based on the play El trovador (1836) by Antonio García Gutiérrez.

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It was Gutiérrez's most successful play, one which Verdi scholar Julian Budden describes as "a high flown, sprawling melodrama flamboyantly defiant of the Aristotelian unities, packed with all manner of fantastic and bizarre incident." The premiere took place at the Teatro Apollo in Rome on 19 January 1853, where it "began a victorious march throughout the operatic world,"[2] a success due to Verdi's work over the previous three years.

It began with his January 1850 approach to Cammarano with the idea of Il trovatore. There followed, slowly and with interruptions, the preparation of the libretto, first by Cammarano until his death in mid-1852 and then with the young librettist Leone Emanuele Bardare, which gave the composer the opportunity to propose significant revisions, which were accomplished under his direction.[3] These revisions are seen largely in the expansion of the role of Leonora.

For Verdi, the three years were filled with musical activity; work on this opera did not proceed while the composer wrote and premiered Rigoletto in Venice in March 1851. His personal affairs also limited his professional work. In May 1851, an additional commission was offered by the Venice company after Rigoletto's success there. Another commission came from Paris while he was visiting that city from late 1851 to March 1852. Before the libretto for Il trovatore was completed, before it was scored, and before it premiered, Verdi had four operatic projects in various stages of development.

Today, Il trovatore is performed frequently and is a staple of the standard operatic repertoire. Verdi around 1850. How and when Verdi acquired a copy of the Gutiérrez play is uncertain, but Budden notes that it appears that Giuseppina Strepponi, with whom Verdi had been living in Busseto since September 1849, had translated the play, as evidenced in a letter from her two weeks before the premiere urging him to "hurry up and give OUR Trovatore".[4].

Performance history[edit]

When considering setting Gutiérrez's play, Verdi turned to work with Cammarano, "the born operatic poet" (according to Budden).[5] Their correspondence began as early as January 1850, well before Verdi had done anything to develop a libretto with Piave for what later became Rigoletto in Venice. At this time, it was also the first since Oberto that the composer was beginning to prepare an opera with a librettist but without a commission of any kind from an opera house.

In his first letter to Cammarano, Verdi proposed El Trovador as the subject with "two feminine roles. The first, the gypsy, a woman of unusual character after whom I want to name the opera." With regard to the chosen librettist's strength as a poet in preparing verse for opera, Budden also comments that his approach was very traditional,[7] something which began to become clear during the preparation of the libretto and which appears in the correspondence between the two men. Verdi's time and energy were spent mostly on finishing Rigoletto, which premiered at La Fenice in Venice in March 1851. Within a matter of weeks, Verdi was expressing his frustration to a mutual friend, de Sanctis, at having no communication from Cammarano.[8] His letter emphasized that "the bolder he is, the happier it will make me,"[8] although it appears that Cammarano's reply contained several objections, which Verdi answered on 4 April and, in his response, he emphasized certain aspects of the plot which were important to him.

These included Leonora taking the veil and also the importance of the Azucena/Manrico relationship. He continued by asking whether the librettist liked the drama and emphasized that "the more unusual and bizarre the better". Verdi also writes that if there were no standard forms – "cavatinas, duets, trios, choruses, finales, etc.


[..] and if you could avoid beginning with an opening chorus.." [9] he would be quite happy. Correspondence continued between the two men for the following two months or so, including another letter from the composer of 9 April which included three pages of suggestions. But he also made concessions and expresses his happiness in what he is receiving in the way of verse.[10]. During the period to follow, in spite of his preoccupations but especially after he had begun to overcome them, Verdi had kept in touch with the librettist.

In a letter around the time of his intended departure for France, he wrote encouragingly to Cammarano: "I beg you with all my soul to finish this Trovatore as quickly as you possibly can." There then arose the question of where the opera would eventually be presented.

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Verdi had turned down an offer from Naples, but became concerned about the availability of his preferred Azucena, Rita Gabussi-De Bassini. She turned out not to be on the Naples roster, but expressed an interest in the possibility of Rome. May 1851 brought an offer for a new opera from the Venice authorities, and it was followed by an agreement with the Rome Opera company to present Trovatore during the 1852/1853 Carnival season, specifically in January 1853.[7].

By November Verdi and Strepponi left Italy to spend the winter of 1851/52 in Paris, where he concluded an agreement with the Paris Opéra to write what became Les vêpres siciliennes, his first grand opera, although he had adapted his earlier I Lombardi into Jérusalem for the stage. Including work on Trovatore, other projects consumed him, but a significant event occurred in February, when the couple attended a performance of The Lady of the Camellias by Alexandre Dumas fils. What followed is reported by Verdi's biographer Mary Jane Phillips-Matz who states that the composer revealed that, after seeing the play, he immediately began to compose music for what would later become La traviata.[14].


The couple returned to Sant'Agata by mid-March 1852 and Verdi immediately began work on Trovatore after a year's delay. Then, in July 1852, by way of an announcement in a theatrical journal, Verdi received news of Cammarano's death earlier that month.

This was both a professional and a personal blow. The composer learned that Cammarano had completed Manrico's third-act aria, "Di quella pira" just eight days before his death, but now he turned to De Sanctis to find him another librettist. Leone Emanuele Bardare was a young poet from Naples who was beginning his career; eventually he wrote more than 15 librettos before 1880.[15] Composer and librettist met in Rome around 20 December 1852 and Verdi began work on both Trovatore and La traviata.

His main aim, having changed his mind about the distribution of characters in the opera, was to enhance the role of Leonora, thus making it "a two-women opera"[16] and he communicated many of these ideas ahead of time via letters to De Sanctis over several months. Leonora now was to have a cantabile for the Miserere as well as retaining "Tacea la Notte" in act 1 with its cabaletta.

Changes were also made to Azucena's "Stride la vampa" and to the Count's lines. Taking into account the last-minute requirements of the censor and the consequent changes, overall, the revisions and changes enhanced the opera, and the result was that it was a critical and a popular success. In Italian as Il trovatore. Tenor Carlo Baucardé sang Manrico. Soprano Rosina Penco sang Leonora. Mezzo Emilia Goggi sang Azucena. Baritone Giovanni Guicciardi sang di Luna.


  • The opera's immense popularity – albeit a popular success rather than a critical one – came from some 229 productions worldwide in the three years following its premiere on 19 January 1853,[17] and 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 totalled 190".[17].
  • First given in Paris in Italian on 23 December 1854 by the Théâtre-Italien at the Salle Ventadour,[18] the cast included Lodovico Graziani as Manrico and Adelaide Borghi-Mamo as Azucena.[19][20].
  • Il trovatore was first performed in the US by the Max Maretzek Italian Opera Company on 2 May 1855 at the then-recently opened Academy of Music in New York while its UK premiere took place on 10 May 1855 at Covent Garden in London, with Jenny Bürde-Ney as Leonora, Enrico Tamberlick as Manrico, Pauline Viardot as Azucena and Francesco Graziani as the Conte di Luna.[21][22].
  • As the 19th century proceeded there was a decline in interest, but Il trovatore saw a revival of interest after Toscanini's 1902 revivals.
  • From its performance at the Met on 26 October 1883 the opera has been a staple of its repertoire.[23].
  • Today, almost all performances use the Italian version and it is one of the world's most frequently performed operas.[24].
  • In French 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.[25] 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.[18]. 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.[26] 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.[27][28]. Rarely given in French, it was presented as part of the 1998 Festival della Valle d'Itria[33] and in 2002 Le trouvère appeared as part of the Sarasota Opera's "Verdi Cycle" of all the composer's work.[34]. Librettist Salvadore Cammarano. Scene 1: The guard room in the castle of Luna (The Palace of Aljafería, Zaragoza, Spain). 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, a troubadour whose identity he does not know. In order to keep the guards awake, Ferrando narrates the history of the count (Racconto: 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, her protests of innocence ignored.

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 his son's death.