19 January 1853
Il trovatore (pronounced
The premiere took place at the
For Verdi, the three years were filled with operatic activity because work on this opera did not proceed while the composer wrote and premiered
Today, Il Trovatore is performed frequently and is a staple of the standard operatic repertoire.
How and when Verdi acquired a copy of the Gutiérrez play is uncertain, but Budden notes that it appears that
When considering setting Gutiérrez's play, Verdi turned to work with Cammarano, "the born operatic poet" (according to Budden). Their correspondence began as early as January 1850, well before Verdi had done anything to develop a libretto with
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, something which began to become clear during the preparation of the libretto and which appears in the correspondence between the two men.
Verdi's time and energy were spent mostly on finishing Rigoletto, which premiered at
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...." 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.
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."
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
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.
By November Verdi and Strepponi left Italy to spend the winter of 1851/52 in Paris, where he concluded an agreement with the
The couple returned to Sant'Agata by mid-March 1852 and Verdi immediately began work on Trovatore after a year's delay.
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.
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" 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.