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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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. See more awards »

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James Levine ...
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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Version of Il trovatore (1922) See more »

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One of my personal favourite productions of any of Verdi's operas
26 April 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I love Verdi's operas, along with Puccini he was the composer that introduced me to the wonderful world of opera. Il Trovatore for me is one of his best, while it does have a convoluted but still compelling story that I have often seen described as implausible, the music throughout is magnificent being one of Verdi's most darkest and complex scores, my favourites being the Miserere and Il Balen.

This Met production is superb, my only complaint being some of the chorus numbers especially the Anvil Chorus being too dimly lit and perhaps a tad too stolid too. Other than that, it is wonderfully performed and staged in an inspired and efficient manner. I am also receptive to the 1978 production with Placido Domingo as Manrico and Herbert Von Karajan conducting.

The production looks just great. The sets and costumes are suitably dark and austere, but I loved the use of contrasting lighting and interesting camera angles. The music is brilliantly performed and sung and conducted with real panache by James Levine. Brian Large does a more than able job directing the production with all the pivotal parts of the opera varying from very good to astounding in its staging.

The leads are superb. Luciano Pavarotti is a fine Manrico. Before, I did not think much of him as an actor, finding he stood-there-and-sang, but after seeing him in 1988's La Boheme, 1982's Rigoletto and this I feel I am being rather harsh. On a more positive note, when it comes to his personality, which was always infectious and exciting and his singing, which was always wonderful and unique in the sense you knew it was him immediately, I couldn't fault him at all.

Vocally, Sherrill Milnes is not at his peak, see him in 1976's Tosca, 1971's Rigoletto(recording) or his performances of Largo al Factotum, Si Puo, O Carlo Ascolta and Credo in un dio crudel, you'll find he's in better shape in these. But I have always admired Milnes, even after his vocal crisis and vocal and technical imperfections he experienced he still remained an intelligent and gifted performer with a compelling if not always subtle stage presence, and his performance as Count di Luna is no exception. Not just in the spine-tingling trios, but in particular Il Balen where he brilliantly commands the stage and sings a very difficult aria with real musicality, masterly legato, quite intense pianissimos and a ringing top that most baritones and perhaps even tenors would envy. All of which reinforce why he is considered by a number of people including myself, apart from those who love to pick on his tuning and technique which I personally think is unfair and it actually spoils my enjoyment of watching and hearing him sing, as one of the most distinguished Verdi baritones there are. And although it is far from his best, along with his Ernani and his 1985 Verona performance of Si Puo, it is one of his better post-crisis performances vocally for me.

Eva Marton does a wonderful job as Leonora. With her at her peak, she comes across as a very dramatically powerful actress and does sing absolutely beautifully. My only slight disappointments in regards to Marton is in the Misere, while acting-wise it is powerful and affecting and her top register riveting, her lower register occasionally lacks that extra support making her little passage before Pavarotti sings on top of her a little under the note, and also she messes up the tempo in places. Still, her chemistry with Pavarotti and Milnes is to be credited, she reacts to them very well as they to her which further adds to the atmosphere.

As Azucena, Dolora Zajick while not quite my idea age wise does sing really quite compellingly. I do find her singing better than her acting, her voice is a both beautiful and powerful one put to great dramatic skill, and while she acts much better than in 1989's Aida(more certain and less awkward) she doesn't convince as much as Marton and Milnes do here.

The chorus are very fine, and capture the feeling of their numbers with ease. The lighting sometimes does put them to a disadvantage, but they do get on with it and sing and emote professionally.

Overall, not superlative but brilliantly done and one of my personal favourites regardless. I can actually forgive moments of stolid acting and lack of support in the singing when as a whole it is done as well as it is here. Bravo! 10/10 Bethany Cox


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