Verdi Il trovatore opera to libretto by Salvadore Cammarano. Directed 2002 by Elijah Moshinsky at the Royal Opera House. Stars José Cura (Manrico), Dmitri Hvorostovsky (Count di Luna), Yvonne Naef (Azucena), Verónica Villarroel (Leonora), Tómas Tómasson (Ferrando), Gweneth-Ann Jeffers (Ines), Thomas Barnard (Old Gypsy), Douglas Telfer (Messenger), and Edgaras Montvidas (Ruiz). Carlo Rizzi conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (Concert Master Vasko Vassilev) and the Royal Opera Chorus (Chorus Director Terry Edwards). Sets by Dante Ferretti; costumes by Anne Tilby; lighting by Howard Harrison; fight scenes by William Hobbs; directed for TV by Brian Large. Released 2008, Blu-ray disc has 5.1 PCM sound. Grade: B
Truth is stranger than fiction; the libretto to Il trovatore stranger than both. Still, because it's full of famous music, this has always been one of the most beloved and important operas. Il trovatore is also, I think, famous as the opera that requires (per Caruso) the 4 best singers in the world (soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and baritone). Buzz says only Hvorostovsky qualifies on this disc, but all the singers were good enough for me. Verdi set this in about 1450 when a Count could have a gypsy woman burned at the stake for being nasty. Here the design puts us at about 1850, when such things were no longer done --- well, this is not the kind of story where you think much about such things. The entire opera takes place at night or in dark buildings. The low lighting was doubtless appropriate and dramatic in the theater. This was a challenge for the HD cameras. The result was a softer and grainier picture than you would like, but it's still a big improvement over DVD quality. An odd deficiency is that neither the disc menu nor the jewel box booklet indexes the many famous arias to the chapters on the disc. This disc has an odd bonus dealing with the sport of Schläger sword fighting.
If you are are a Verdi expert, you might pass over this disc in the hope that a better Il trovatore may come along. If you are a Verdi novice and are willing to do a bit of homework, I think you can be happy with this production.
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