Il Trovatore (The Troubadour)
Opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi. Text by Cammerano.
Two men of entirely different station and character woo Leonora, Countess of Sergaste. The one is Count Luna, the other a minstrel named Manrico, who is believed to be the son of Azucena, a gypsy.
Azucena has, in accordance with gypsy law, vowed bloody revenge on Count Luna, because his father, believing her mother to be a sorceress and to have be-witched one of his children, had the old woman burned. To punish the father for this cruelty Azucena took away his other child, which was vainly sought for. This story is told in the first scene, where we find the Count’s servants waiting for him, while he stands sighing beneath his sweetheart’s window. But Leonora’s heart is already captivated by Manrico’s sweet songs and his valor in tournament. She suddenly hears his voice, and in the darkness mistakes the Count for her lover, who, however, comes up just in time to claim her. The Count is full of rage, and there follows a duel in which Manrico is wounded, but, though it is in his power to kill his enemy, he spares his life, without, however, being able to account for the impulse.
In the second act Azucena, nursing Manrico, tells him of her mother’s dreadful fate and her last cry for revenge, and confesses to having stolen the old Count’s son, with the intention of burning him. But in her despair and confusion, she says, she threw her own child into the flames, and the Count’s son lived. Manrico is terrified, but Azucena retracts her words and regains his confidence, so that he believes her tale to have been but an outburst of remorse and folly.
Meanwhile he hears that Leonora, to whom he was reported as dead, is about to take the veil, and he rushes away to save her. Count Luna arrives before the con-vent with the same purpose. But just as he seizes his prey, Manrico conies up and liberates her with the aid of his companions, while the Count curses them. Leonora becomes Manrico’s wife, but her happiness is shortlived.
In the third act the Count’s soldiers succeed in capturing Azucena, in whom they recognize the burned gypsy’s daughter. She denies all knowledge of the Count’s lost brother, and as the Count hears that his successful rival is her son, she is sentenced to be burned. Ruiz, Manrico’s friend, brings the news to him. Manrico tries to rescue her, but is seized too, and condemned to die by the axe.
In the fourth act Leonora offers herself to the Count as the price of freedom for the captives, but, deter-mined to be true to her lover, she takes poison. She hastens to him, announcing his deliverance. Too late he sees how dearly she has paid for it, when, after sweet assurance of love and fidelity, she sinks dead at his feet.
The Count, coming up and seeing himself deceived, orders Manrico to be put to death instantly. Ile is led away, and only after the execution does Azucena in-form the Count that his murdered rival was Luna’s own long-sought brother.