Recorded on 12/31/1969, uploaded on 04/09/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Il Trovatore (The Troubadour) was the second of the three great operas (Rigoletto and La traviata being the other two) that established Verdi’s fame as one of Italy’s greatest operatic composers. Composed in 1852, the libretto of Il Trovatore is based on a play by the Spanish playwright Antonio Garcia Gutiérezz and was drafted by Salvatore Cammarano, one of the composer’s favorite librettists. Cammarano, however, died before completing the libretto for Verdi. Verdi then turned to Leone Emanuele Bardare, who revised and completed Cammarano’s libretto under the direct supervision of the composer himself.
The opera premiered at the Teatro Apollo in Rome on January 19, 1853 and was an instant success, garnering even more praise than its predecessor, Rigoletto. Firmly in the operatic tradition of the early 19th century, replete with all the expected plot twists and drama (which is perhaps the work’s only weakness), Il travatore possesses some of the most beautiful (and popular) melodies Verdi ever crafted. It is also one of his most difficult operas, demanding much from the principal roles but also giving them every opportunity to shine and relish in the spotlight.
The aria Di quella pira l’orrendo foco (“The horrid flames of that pyre”) comes at the close of Act III. Manrico and Leonora have only just proclaimed their love for each other and are about to take their marriage vows. Yet, Ruiz, Manrico’s comrade, enters to deliver the news to his friend that his mother, Azucena, has been condemned by the evil Count di Luna to burn at the stake. Manrico then rushes to her aid with the words of his martial aria. Soldiers join Ruiz while Manrico bids farewell to his beloved, leaving Leonora alone at the close of the act. Joseph DuBose
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