The imposing grandeur of the Arena di Verona is the setting for Il Trovatore, one of Verdi's greatest masterpieces, with stage designs by the distinguished sculptor Mario Ceroli. For many years Il Trovatore has been an opera of worldwide popularity and the cast in this production is worthy of the opera's perennial success. It features the talents of the British soprano Rosalind Plowright in her Verona debut, a wealth of vocal experience from Fiorenza Cossotto as Azucena, matched with Giorgio Zancanaro's strong portrayal of the Count and Franco Bonisolli in fine voice as Manrico, the troubadour.
Joan Sutherland was at the height of her career when she took on the role of Leonora – arguably the most dramatic of all Verdi heroines – in 1983. Elijah Moshinsky’s production, in which he was ably supported by the Australian artist Sidney Nolans (set design), Luciana Arrighi (costumes) and Nick Chelton (lighting), was tailor-made for Sutherland, allowing Leonora to develop into a truly tragic heroine occupying the opera’s central ground. This performance at the Australian Opera, Sydney – and featuring a high quality cast under the baton of Richard Bonynge – was recorded by Australian Television on 2nd July 1983. Verdi’s powerful and passionate opera tells a tale of civil war and treachery.
Il Trovatore was always one of Herbert von Karajan's favourite operas. He conducted it at the very beginning of his career and his first studio recording in 1956 was made in Milan with Maria Callas and Giuseppe di Stefano, but "his" Trovatore really made its mark in the legendary performances given at the Salzburg Festival in 1962, which formed the basis for this successful revival in Vienna. He once declared in an interview that what he loved about this opera was its archetypal human passions, its compression of highly dramatic situations into the smallest conceivable space and Verdi's genius for translating such situations into music.
José Cura, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Verónica Villarroel and Yvonne Naef lead the star cast of Verdi's blazingly passionate opera, in Elijah Moshinsky's new Royal Opera House production co-produced with Teatro Real Madrid, with sets by the noted film designer Dante Ferretti and costumes by Anne Tilby.
Lovers of Il trovatore a work famous for its perennially popular cavatinas and cabalettas rightly expect the singers to be at the very top of their vocal game and particularly look forward to the top C at the end of Manrico s stretta, a true do di petto produced not from the head but from the chest. Yet the production of the work that was staged at the end of 2013 by the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin jointly run by Daniel Barenboim and Jürgen Flimm deliberately flouted these expectations and traded familiarity for astonishment.
In memory of Elena Obraztsova (7 July 1939 – 12 January 2015)