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Better than the rating here, but doesn't quite work
Il Trovatore does have a rather convoluted story, but the music is unforgettable in what is perhaps Verdi's most melodically rich score. This Trovatore I did find interesting, but also disappointing as well. It is well made, beautifully shot with lush backgrounds and sets. The music is wonderful, though sadly some of the arias and the like introducing the characters and their motivations have been cut probably for running time. In terms of drama, the film certainly isn't devoid of any. There are several beautifully done moments, such as Leonora getting dressed for a wedding, Azucena checking beneath the helmets of the slain soldiers searching for Manrico and the woman hiding in the shadows of the dungeon. The performances are also great, Gino Sinimberghi is a heroic Manrico, and the vocals of Antonio Salvarezza for this role are thrilling as they should be. Vittorina Colonnello captures Leonora's desperation and poignancy wonderfully with an ideal lyric-spinto voice from Franca Sacchi and Gianna Pederzini is a powerful and sometimes scary Azucena. But I found Enzo Mascherini to be the standout, his Count DiLuna is more than just the sneering villain he could've been, there is an evil streak to him but he is also sympathetic and almost like the real tragic lead of the story. On the debit side, I think the film could've done with more context(perhaps through flashback like some of the second half did), effort to give some back-story is shown in the first half spread-over but doing it that way sadly it made the story structure more confused than it is. The cuts in the score are replaced by scripted lines. Now the dialogue here is not actually bad as such, just rather jarring compared to the genre Il Trovatore is part of. Don't get me wrong, there are examples of dialogue in opera(Carmen), but rarely used to replace crucial arias that give meaning to the characters and story. Which brings me to the characters, when we are introduced to them I feel it is too soon, spoiling the sense of hindsight, and here sadly compared to other productions of Il Trovatore with the sole exception of DiLuna(and I think Mascherini's performance had a lot to do with it) we don't learn as much about them. The narration is unnecessary I feel also, was it to help newcomers to the opera understand the story? I'm not sure, to me though it diminished the drama and maybe even over-simplified the story. All in all, doesn't quite work but worth a look especially for how it was made and the performance of DiLuna. 6/10 Bethany Cox
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