Arena of Verona
Table of contents Il Trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi

ACT ONE

Scene one
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.

Scene two
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.

ACT TWO

Scene one
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.

Scene two
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.

ACT THREE

Scene one
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.

Scene two
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.

ACT FOUR

Scene one
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.

Scene two
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".


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