The Metropolitan Opera Presents: Season 13, Episode 1

Il trovatore (15 Oct. 1988)
"Live from the Metropolitan Opera" Il trovatore (original title)

TV Episode  |   |  Music
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Set in the mountains of Medieval Northern Spain, "Il Trovatore" (the Troubadour) is a chanting warrior named Manrico. Manrico's enemy in the region is led by the Count di Luna. From the ... See full summary »

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Title: Il trovatore (15 Oct 1988)

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Himself - Conducted by
Eva Marton ...
Dolora Zajick ...
...
Sherrill Milnes ...
Jeffrey Wells ...
Loretta di Franco ...
Mark Baker ...
John Bills ...
A Messenger
Ray Morrison ...
A Gypsy
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra ...
Themselves - Orchestra
Metropolitan Opera Chorus ...
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Set in the mountains of Medieval Northern Spain, "Il Trovatore" (the Troubadour) is a chanting warrior named Manrico. Manrico's enemy in the region is led by the Count di Luna. From the outset, these two opposing forces are in conflict. Count di Luna loves Leonora, one of the queen's ladies in waiting. Ferrando, the captain of the guard narrates to his troops a terrible happening of 15 years ago: an old woman, accused of casting the evil eye over the count's brother, was burnt at the stake. The subsequent disappearance of the boy, followed by the discovery of a child's skeleton in the ashes, led to the conclusion that the woman's daughter, who was present at the burning, had thrown him into the flames to avenge her mother. She was never found. For us, the spectators, she has not yet been found... Meanwhile, Leonora doesn't love the count, but the troubador Manrico, raised by the gypsy Azucena. Manrico is then not only the Count's rival, but as a follower of the rebellious Count ... Written by Gonz30

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15 October 1988 (USA)  »

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Jerry Springer the Opera
11 February 2005 | by (Birmingham, England) – See all my reviews

The Count di Luna orders a Gypsy woman to be burnt at the stake as a witch. Her daughter, seeking revenge, abducts one of his baby sons. She means to throw the baby onto the fire but, absent-mindedly, incinerates her own baby instead. Realising her mistake she brings up the Count's son as her own. When they grow up, the two Count's sons, ignorant of their relationship, are rivals in love for the beautiful Leonora.

So far then, it's just like an average episode of the Jerry Springer show. This opera seems to be relatively neglected, compared to other middle-period Verdi, on the grounds of implausibility. I fail to see the problem: anyone who has ever been driven to distraction taking two children around a supermarket can sympathise with the young woman's mistake in grabbing hold of the wrong one. Composed between Rigoletto and La Traviata, this opera contains some of Verdi's best music and the ensembles, in particular, are reminiscent of the operas that immediately precede and follow it.

This is a recording of the New York Metropolitan Opera production in 1988. I have listened, for many years, to the live relays from the Met on Saturday evenings but this is the first time, to my knowledge, that these performances have been shown on British television. However, the credits did suggest BBC involvement in the project so it is possible that the BBC broadcast these films many years ago, before I was allowed to watch opera.

The Met is in the envious position of being able to afford the world's top stars, at any given time. In this performance Luciano Pavarotti, at the considerable height of his powers, is the Troubadour, Manrico. Eva Marton is Leonora; my experience of her in recent years is as a wonderfully dramatic performer who is somewhat past her best vocally. What a pleasure it is to hear her here at the peak of her career. This illustrious pair is joined by the baritone Sherill Milnes in some spine-tingling trios.

This is, literally, a dark production, ably directed for the screen by Brian Large. The brightly-lit solos and ensembles, against a dark background, create a pleasant chiaroscuro effect. However, in some of the choruses, particularly the famous anvil chorus, I felt that the limitations of the stage lighting at a live performance rendered the whole thing a shade too crepuscular.


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