Table of contents Il
Trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi
In Biscay in the royal palace the courtiers
are awaiting the return of their lord - the Conte
di Luna. The Count is in love with Leonora, a young
lady-in-waiting to the Queen, and as he is afraid
she will yield to the advances of his hated rival,
a troubadour - il Trovatore, he spends the best
part of the night keeping watch on her residence.
Ferrando, the captain of the guard, tells the grim
tale of an old gypsy woman who was condemned to
death for witchcraft and burnt at the stake, and
of her daughter Azucena who had avenged her mother's
death by abducting one of the two sons of the old
Conte di Luna and flinging him on to the same bonfire.
It is a blood-curdling story and the bystanders
call down curses on the evil witch.
In the garden of the castle Leonora tells her
friend Inez of her love for Manrico, the troubadour,
victor of many tournaments and the singer of enchanting
songs in the night, to whom she has decided to bind
her life and fate. The Conte di Luna sees a light
in the window of the beautiful girl and decides
to visit her but a passionate song prevents him
- it is the troubadour singing to Leonora. Consumed
by jealousy the Count tries to draw his beloved
into a trap, wrap himself in his cloak and waits.
When Leonora comes down she mistakes him for Manrico
and throws herself into his arms. Il Trovatore observes
the embrace and is dumbfounded. Angrily he accuses
the girl of deceiving him. The misunderstanding
is soon cleared up. Leonora realises her mistake,
explains what happened to Manrico and tell him once
again that he is the one she loves. The Conte di
Luna is furious and when he recognises the troubadour
as a follower of the rebel Urgel, he challenges
him to a duel. The two of them draw their swords
and retire, while Leonora falls senseless to the
ground. The Count is wounded in the duel but his
rival spares his life.
In a gypsy camp in the mountains of Biscay
Manrico is with Azucena whom he believes to be his
mother. She recalls the cruel events of the past
when her mother was unjustly condemned and the old
Count's son kidnapped. She also tells of her crime
and reveals that in the confusion and terror she
threw her own child into the flames instead of the
Count's. This revelation makes Manrico wonder who
he himself really is. Why did some mysterious force
stay his hand in the duel with the Conte di Luna?
Azucena tries to distract his attention from such
thoughts and urges him to seek revenge. A messenger
brings Manrico that Leonora thinks he is dead, and
is about to take the veil in order to avoid the
attentions of the Count. In spite of Azucena's efforts
to dissuade him, the troubadour decides to leave
and seek out Leonora.
The Conte di Luna also learns of Leonora decision
and, convinced that his rival has died, goes to
the convent with some followers to abduct the girl.
But Manrico arrives unexpectedly, followed shortly
afterwards by some of Urgel's rebels. In the fierce
fight that ensues the Count and his men are disarmed
and the troubadour is able to escape with his beloved.
The royal troops under the command of the Conte
di Luna, encamped beneath the stronghold of Castellor
which has been captured by Urgel's guards are waiting
to launch an attack. Ferrando gives the news that
a gypsy woman has been taken prisoner. It is Azucena.
She declares she has come from Biscay in search
of the son who has abandoned her but Ferrando recognises
her as the kidnapper of the child and the author
of the brutal crime. He therefore gives orders for
her to be tortured.
At Castellor Leonora and Manrico are about
to be married when Ruiz brings a message - Azucena
is going to be burnt at the stake. Manrico tells
Leonora that the gypsy is his mother and rushes
off to rescue her.
Manrico is captured and condemned to death.
To save his life Leonora agrees to marry the Count.
The offer is accepted. Leonora herself wants to
take the news to the prisoner and permission is
granted, but she secretly takes some poison concealed
in her ring.
In prison Manrico seeks to comfort his mother
and is tormented by the thought that she will be burnt
to death. Unexpectedly Leonora enters and throws herself
into the troubadour's arms, telling him that he has
been pardoned and urging him to flee. At first he
is overjoyed but then, when he realises the high price
of the pardon he becomes angry with Leonora and dissains
to accept clemency. But now the poison takes effect.
Leonora dies and Manrico is overcome with grief and
remorse. The Conte di Luna orders Manrico to the block
and forces Azucena to witness his agony. When he has
been executed, the gypsy, almost beside herself, cries
out to the horrified Count: "He was your brother".