• Il Trovatore

    by Published on January 3rd, 2012 04:40 AM
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    Il Trovatore - Opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi

    Written just between Rigoletto and La Traviata, Verdi’s Il Trovatore was saluted as “the triumph of melody”. Compared to its two sisters from the popular trilogy it is clearly the less polished one in terms of drama. Everything in this opera is quite straightforward. The real power of the piece lies entirely in the irresistible music, and the beautiful singing. With the possible exception of Azucena, there are no complex characters like Rigoletto or Violetta. As Caruso said: “it’s easy to perform: you just need the four best singers in the world”. Let’s talk about it in detail.

    by Published on January 9th, 2012 02:09 AM
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    - The convoluted plot of this opera has resulted in some mockery. For many it is an example of what many detractors say of opera libretti, with confused and silly situations that defy belief. Gilbert and Sullivan parodied the baby-switching in The Gondoliers, and the Max Brother’s A Night at the Opera also makes fun of Il Trovatore.

    - What people usually complain about is that the opera is full of situations akin to magical realism, and important actions (baby burnings, kidnappings, duels, executions) take place off-stage or before the curtain opens.

    by Published on January 9th, 2012 02:00 AM
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    The opera starts without a proper overture. Instead, there are 27 bars of a brief orchestral introduction starting with softly rumbling drum rolls, then evolving to clarion-like horn blasts and a trumpet fanfare. Clearly the intention here is to set the mood, to indicate that what we’re about to see is a brash, dangerous, and violent world.

    by Published on April 21st, 2012 08:30 PM
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    Il Trovatore: Conte di Luna

    Posted on January 6, 2012

    The role of Il Conte di Luna is for a standard Verdi baritone, that needs some very good top notes to sing the wonderful aria “Il Balen del suo Sorriso”, a glorious melody that is ascending slowly to the high end of the singer’s tessitura. A more dramatic singing is required for the terzetto “Di geloso amor sprezzato”, or the cabaletta “Per me ora fatale”.
    Comparing with other baritones already in Verdi’s past, like Nabucco, Macbeth or Rigoletto, this role is arguably simpler, with fewer psychological insights. Some will say that di Luna is more of an archetype than a real human being, though some of the music written for him is nothing sort of glorious. Others will acknowledge some more complex nuances in this character.

    by Published on December 31st, 2011 09:59 PM
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    Verdi's Il Trovatore is one of the most recorded operas of all times. There are at least 196 recordings of it, counting all media (vinyl, tape, CD, VHS, DVD, blu-ray). Here is a list, according to the Operadis database. To understand the list, the first number is chronological order, the second one year of the performance; between parenteses you have the kind of recording (live, studio, etc. - see abbreviations after the list), then conductor, orchestra, and * for audio, ** for video, and *** for audio and video: conductor, and orchestra:
    by Published on January 1st, 2012 03:37 PM
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    Il Trovatore in Video


    This is a poorly known production from the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, from April 2005, conducted by Carlo Rizzi, with Leo Nucci as Il Conte di Luna, Dimitra Theodossiou as Leonora, Mariana Pentcheva as Azucena, Miroslave Dvorski as Manrico, Andrea Papi as Ferrando, Bernadette Lucarini as Ines, Enrico Cossuta as Ruiz, and Rafaelle Costantini as the old gipsy.
    by Published on January 9th, 2012 11:26 PM
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    Il Trovatore presents many challenges for the director. With its wildly implausible story line, puzzling ellipses in narrative, and constant shifts of location, it's hard to make the opera coherent or comprehensible, let alone believable. Too often the work is dismissed as a ridiculous potboiler, Verdi's relapse to the "bad old days" when tuneful, stirring music trumped any concern with dramatic viability.

    Nevertheless, modern directors have embraced the opera, in spite or perhaps because of its difficulties. Some update the action to a different historical period in order to provide a context for the work's unbridled violence and eroticism. For other interpreters, though, the opera's wildly melodramatic improbabilities suggest a dreamlike atmosphere, prompting visual approaches freed from conventional realism or narrative logic.

    The following article will examine several recent productions and the ways different directors have tackled the challenge of Il Trovatore. In the interest of full disclosure, it should be mentioned that this will be a survey, based on research, rather than a set of first-hand reviews. Hopefully, though, these brief descriptions will help indicate the widely varied staging possibilities for Verdi's masterwork.

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