Il Trovatore was first performed in 1853 and has remained a favourite in the repertoire ever since. Enrico Crusoe said for a successful performance of this opera you need 4 of the best singers in the world. The tenor [Yonghoon Lee] in this case is young enough to reach and sustain the high Cs in the famous aria 'Di quell pira', but for the rest of the opera he seems to be trying to take the necessary 'squello' from his voice and lacks presence in the company of the other magnificent and seasoned 3 principles who deliver their art with outstanding, dramatic and spontaneous expression in a plot that lacks all credibility. The lack of plot doesn't spoil the power and drive of the score as it is masterfully executed by maestro Marco Armiliato, who conducts with passion and youthful energy.
A nurse [gypsy] breaths on the child of the Count di Luna who promptly dies, so she is burned at the stake. Her daughter, wanting to revenge her mother's death, throws her own baby onto the fire by mistake. The new Count falls in love with Leonora who is in love with Manrico who loves her back. When she is told that Manrico has been killed, she decides to enter a convent. He arrives just in the nick of time and they get ready to marry. Not so fast. The plot that was doggy to begin with now goes into overdrive. The Count kills his brother [Manrico] by mistake. Leonard has taken poison, Aluceno [the gypsy who caused all the trouble in the first place] is probably killed, so the last man standing is the wicket Count.
Dmitri Hvorostovsky [the wicked Count di Luna] is a superstar. He is well known to audiences at the Met and indeed the opera houses of the world. People magazine has named him one of the 50 most beautiful people and here he steals the show. Not only has he presence, power and a perfect liquid baritone voice, but he made a super-human effort to leave his hospital bed for this role. The audience and the orchestra threw white roses at his feet to say thank you.
Gone are the days of lavish scenery and bright lights focused on singers who stood like statues and delivered arias, duets etc. without referring to each other. At stage left a crucifix is in eyesight for the entire opera, even though the stage rotates revelling the dreariest castle in Spain, with no furniture, a huge dungeon and a chapel. The costumes by Brigitte Rieffenstuel complement the characters. Leonora [Anna Netrebko] is a resplendent noble lady, Count di Luna presents as a nobleman and military officer, while the gypsy witch [Dolora Zajick], who has been singing this role since 1988 and considered the best Verdi mezzo in the world, if not of all time, is indeed scary. That leaves Manrico the unimposing gypsy boy who is really the Count's brother.