Opera Preview: IL TROVATORE (The Metropolitan Opera and Fathom Events)

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by Tony Frankel on September 23, 2015

in Film,Theater-Regional


There’s nothing subtle about Verdi’s ambitiously conceived Il Trovatore (The Troubadour). And David McVicar’s grandly realized, dark and hellish version will be shown in select U.S. screens on October 3, 2015, as The Met: Live in HD begins another season of live transmissions.


The opera is one of the three triumphs of Verdi’s “middle period.” Preceded by Rigoletto, the composer followed it with La Traviata, with which it shares more than just a similar-sounding title. Both are dramatic tales of tragic love featuring demanding vocal roles and off-stage serenades sung by the lead tenor.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Count di Luna in Verdi?s ?Il Trovatore.?Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera  Taken during the final dress rehearsal on Febraury 13, 2009 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

Based on the 1836 play El Trovador by Antonio García Gutiérrez and adapted by Salvadore Cammarano, Il Trovatore tells a rather sprawling story in four acts involving revenge, abduction and witchcraft, as well as bands of gypsies and warring soldiers. At the center of the story is the titular troubadour Manrico, his rival the Count di Luna, and the object of their affections, Leonora. Complicating this love triangle is the gypsy Azucena, who has raised Manrico as her own child. Her story only unfolds gradually and provides the plot’s major twists and turns. Ferrando, the Count’s captain of the guard, reveals her as the daughter of a witch burned at the stake who abducted the Count’s infant brother in revenge.


In the midst of various battles enacted by scores of extras, first Leonora is rescued from the Count by Manrico, then Azucena is captured by the Count, and finally Manrico fails to rescue Azucena and is captured along with Leonora. Rather than submit to the Count, Leonora takes her own life in a futile effort to save Manrico’s. The opera’s shocking climax finally comes when Azucena reveals to the Count that Manrico, the rival he has just executed, was actually his brother.

Trovatore_200x295_R3Soprano Anna Netrebko’s dramatic and vocal skills will be on full display in her next new role at the Met. Tenor Yonghoon Lee sings the ill-fated Manrico, baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky is his rival, and mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick is the mysterious gypsy with the troubled past. Marco Armiliato conducts.

And you get the best seats in the house to notice that few rays of sunshine light up Charles Edwards’ earth-toned set, which includes a life-size crucifix and a massive wall that serves as a fortress battlement, palace interior, prison gate and church clerestory, as occasion requires. Transposing the plot’s setting from fifteenth- to nineteenth-century Spain allows the production design to borrow heavily from painter Francisco Goya’s Romantic aesthetic, especially in Brigitte Reiffenstuel’s costumes, which you’ll see in splendid detail. She clothes the cast in mostly monochrome military garb or simple shift dresses.

The Met’s 2015–16 season will feature 10 live performances, including six new productions, and a special encore presentation of The Magic Flute—the first-ever Met HD broadcast from 2006. Each live transmission will take place on a Saturday, with pre-recorded encore presentations on the following Wednesday evening.

MET_POSTER_A_2015-2016photos by Ken Howard

The Met: Live in HD 2015-2016
Il Trovatore (Verdi)
Saturday, October 3, 2015
(12:55pm ET / 11:55am CT/
10:55am MT/ 9:55am PT)
pre-recorded encore presentation
Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at 6:30
for theater locations and prices,
visit fathomevents.com

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