19 January 2016

Il trovatore – opera

Verdi masterpiece is regularly performed all over the world 

One of the most successful operas composed by Giuseppe Verdi, Il trovatore was first staged on this day in 1853 in Rome.

Verdi's opera Il Trovatore premiered at Teatro Apollo in Rome
Giuseppe Verdi
The four act opera was based on a play by Antonio Garcia Gutiérrez about a troubadour, the son of a gypsy woman, who is in love with a lady in waiting at a Spanish castle.

After its premiere, at the Teatro Apollo in Rome, the opera became a  big success and in the first three years there were 229 productions of it worldwide.

In Naples alone there were 11 different productions in six theatres, including Teatro San Carlo, during the first three years.

The opera was first performed in America by the Max Maretzek Opera Company in 1855. The Metropolitan Opera in New York have performed it more than 600 times since it was first staged there in 1883.

Verdi was asked to prepare a French version of the opera in 1855, Le Trouvère, and to include music for a ballet. It was first performed in French in 1857 in Paris when Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugènie went to see it.

Listen to the Anvil Chorus, performed at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, in 2012

Along with Rigoletto and La traviata, Il trovatore is believed by experts to represent Verdi at the height of his artistry in the middle of his career.

The Anvil Chorus, or Gypsy Chorus, in Act Two has become one of the best-known passages of opera.

Nowadays, almost all performances of Il trovatore are in Italian and the opera is one of the most regularly performed worldwide.

Teatro Apollo, on the banks of the Tiber, staged many Verdi operas
The memorial in Rome on the
site of the Teatro Apollo

Travel tip:

Teatro Apollo in Rome was created from a medieval tower, the Torre dell’Annona, which had once acted as a prison. It became the Teatro Tordinona in the 17th century and then the Teatro Apollo in the late 18th century. The biggest theatre in Rome, it hosted the premieres of two Verdi operas but was demolished in 1888 when the embankments of the Tiber were built. A white marble fountain remains as a memorial, marking the sport where the theatre once stood.

Travel tip:

Teatro San Carlo in Naples is thought to be the oldest opera house in the world, opening in 1737 close to Piazza Plebiscito, the main square in the city. The theatre was designed by Giovanni Antonio Medrano for the Bourbon King of Naples, Charles I, and took just eight months to build. In the magnificent auditorium, the focal point is the royal box surmounted by the crown of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.


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