In four acts by GIUSEPPE VERDI.
Text by SALVATORE COMMERANO.
Though Verdi is far beneath his celebrated predecessors Rossini and
Bellini, he is highly appreciated in his own country and the Trovatore
counts many admirers not only in Italy but also abroad. This is easily
accounted for by the number of simple and catching melodies contained
in his operas, and which have become so quickly popular, that we hear
them on every street-organ. Manrico's romance for example, is a good
specimen of the work for which he is admired.
The text of Il Trovatore is very gloomy and distressing.
Two men of entirely different station and character woo Leonore,
Countess of Sergaste. The one is Count Luna, the other a minstrel,
named Manrico, who is believed to be the son of Azucena, a gipsy.
Azucena has in accordance with gipsy-law vowed bloody revenge on Count
Luna, because his father, believing her mother to be a sorceress and to
have bewitched one of his children, had the old woman burnt. To punish
the father for this cruelty Azucena took away his other child, which
was vainly sought for. This story is told in the first scene, where we
find the Count's servants waiting for him, while he stands sighing
beneath his sweetheart's window. But Leonore's heart is already
captivated by Manrico's sweet songs and his valour in tournament. She
suddenly hears his voice, and in the darkness mistakes the Count for
her lover, who however comes up just in time to claim her. The Count
is full of rage, and there follows a duel in which Manrico is wounded,
but though it is in his power to kill his enemy, he spares his life,
without however being able to account for the impulse.
In the second act Azucena, nursing Manrico, tells him of her mother's
dreadful fate and her last cry for revenge, and confesses to having
robbed the old Count's son, with the intention of burning him. But in
her despair and confusion, she says, she threw her own child into the
flames, and the Count's son lived. Manrico is terrified, but Azucena
retracts her words and regains his confidence, so that he believes her
tale to have been but an outburst of remorse and folly.
Meanwhile he hears that Leonore, to whom he was reported as dead, is
about to take the veil, and he rushes away to save her. Count Luna
arrives before the convent with the same purpose. But just as he
seizes his prey, Manrico comes up, and liberates her with the aid of
his companions, while the Count curses them.
Leonore becomes Manrico's wife, but her happiness is shortlived.
In the third act the Count's soldiers succeed in capturing Azucena, in
whom they recognize the burnt gipsy's daughter. She denies all
knowledge of the Count's lost brother, and as the Count hears
that his successful rival is her son, she is sentenced to be burnt.
Ruiz, Manrico's friend, brings the news to him. Manrico tries to
rescue her, but is seized too, and condemned to die by the axe.
In the fourth act Leonore offers herself to the Count as the price of
freedom for the captives, but determined to be true to her lover, she
takes poison. She hastens to him, announcing his deliverance. Too
late he sees how dearly she has paid for it, when after sweet assurance
of love and fidelity she sinks dead at his feet.
The Count, coming up and seeing himself deceived, orders Manrico to be
put to death instantly.
He is led away, and only after the execution does Azucena inform the
Count, that his murdered rival was Luna's own long-sought brother.
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