James Levine conducts Verdi’s thrilling depiction of life on the edge in his first performances of the work in 29 years. Sir David McVicar’s exhilarating production features Maria Agresta as the noble heroine, Leonora, Yonghoon Lee as the troubadour who loves her, Quinn Kelsey as his rival, and Anita Rachvelishvili as the Gypsy Azucena, whose bloodthirsty curse propels the story.
In a remarkable career spanning six decades in the theater, Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) composed 28 operas, at least half of which are at the core of today’s repertoire. Salvadore Cammarano (1801–1852) was one of the foremost librettists of his day. He collaborated with Donizetti (Lucia di Lammermoor, among others) and wrote the text for La Battaglia di Legnano and Luisa Miller for Verdi. After his death the Trovatore libretto was completed by fellow writer Leone Emanuele Bardare (1820–after 1874).
Sir David McVicar – Production
Jennifer Tipton – Lighting Designer
Charles Edwards – Set Designer
Leah Hausman – Choreographer
Brigitte Reiffenstuel – Costume Designer
James Levine – Conductor
Maria Agresta – Leonora
Anita Rachvelishvili – Azucena
Elena Manistina – Azucena
Yonghoon Lee – Manrico
Quinn Kelsey – Di Luna
Luca Salsi – Di Luna
Stefan Kocan – Ferrando
Kwangchul Youn – Ferrando
The opera is originally set in northern Spain in the early 15th century, during a time of prolonged civil war. Audiences of the Romantic era understood civil war as a sort of societal schizophrenia, in which individuals could be easily torn apart, both physically and psychologically, by shifting fortunes and conflicted loyalties. The Met’s production places the action during the Peninsular War (1808–1814), when Spain and its allies were fighting the forces of Napoleon.
Verdi’s score for Il Trovatore perfectly expresses the extreme nature of the drama at hand. Throughout the opera, the use of melody is as uninhibited as the emotions of the protagonists. But that melody often appears to be as disturbed as the situations it portrays: much of the score is written in uneven meters (such as 3/4 or 6/8), and even those segments that are set in common 4/4 time have vigorous counter-rhythms fighting against any sense of symmetry. Beyond the rhythmic irregularities, another feature of the score is the heavy use of minor keys in almost all of the main arias.