Il trovatore

Il trovatore
Opera by Giuseppe Verdi
Edel Manrico 1883.jpg
Alfredo Edel Colorno's sketch of Manrico's costume for a production at La Scala in 1883
LibrettistSalvadore Cammarano with additions by Leone Emanuele Badare
LanguageItalian
Based onAntonio García Gutiérrez's play El trovador
Premiere
19 January 1853 (1853-01-19)

Il trovatore (pronounced [il trovaˈtoːre]; Italian for "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. 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."[1]

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 operatic activity because work on this opera did not proceed while the composer wrote and premiered Rigoletto in Venice in March 1851 and also while his personal affairs limited his activities. Then, 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 and into March 1852. Therefore, even before the libretto for Il trovatore was ever completed, before the music was written, and before the opera premiered, Verdi had a total of four different operatic projects underway and in various stages of development.

Today, Il Trovatore is performed frequently and is a staple of the standard operatic repertoire.

Composition history

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]

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."[6]

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.

Relationship with Cammarano

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."[11]

Preoccupations and delays in 1851–1852

There then arose the question of where the opera would eventually be presented. 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.

Things were put on hold for several months as Verdi became preoccupied with family matters, which included the illnesses of both his mother (who died in July) and father, the estrangement from his parents with communications conducted only between lawyers, and the administration of his newly acquired property at Sant'Agata (now the Villa Verdi near his hometown of Busseto), where he had established his parents.[12] But his relationship with his parents, albeit legally severed, as well as Strepponi's situation living with the composer in an unmarried state, continued to preoccupy him, as did the deterioration of his relationship with his father-in-law, Antonio Barezzi.[13] Finally, in April 1851, agreement was reached with the elder Verdis on the payment of debts mutually owed and the couple were given time to resettle, leaving Sant'Agata for Verdi and Strepponi to occupy for the next fifty years.

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 Jerusalem 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 Alexander Dumas fils's The Lady of the Camellias. 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.

Death of Cammarano and work with Bardare

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.

Other Languages
azərbaycanca: Trubadur (opera)
беларуская: Трубадур (опера)
български: Трубадур (опера)
català: Il trovatore
Cymraeg: Il trovatore
dansk: Trubaduren
Deutsch: Il trovatore
Ελληνικά: Τροβατόρε
Esperanto: Il trovatore
français: Il trovatore
galego: Il trovatore
italiano: Il trovatore
עברית: הטרובדור
Latina: Il trovatore
magyar: A trubadúr
Bahasa Melayu: Il trovatore
Nederlands: Il trovatore
português: Il trovatore
română: Trubadurul
Simple English: Il trovatore
slovenščina: Trubadur (opera)
српски / srpski: Трубадур (опера)
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Il trovatore
Türkçe: Il trovatore
українська: Трубадур (опера)
Tiếng Việt: Il trovatore