Opera Review: Verdi’s ‘Il trovatore’ (‘The Troubadour’) presented by the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center
Some of the most glorious voices in the world of opera currently fill the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington National Opera’s dazzling production of Verdi’s “Il trovatore” (The Troubadour). Directed by Brenna Corner, with conductor Michele Gamba leading the Washington Opera Orchestra, the fantastical tale features a dreaded love triangle, mistaken identity, the burning of an innocent gypsy on the stake and his daughter’s unshakeable will for revenge.
… dazzling… Washington National Opera once again offers audiences world-class vocal art and opera at its finest.
One of Verdi’s best-loved works, “Il trovatore” is a four-act opera that opens with Ferrando’s (bass-baritone Ryan Speedo-Green) tale of Count di Luna’s wrongful accusation against a gypsy who he claimed had bewitched his youngest child in “Di due figli vivea padre beato” (The good Count de Luna lived happily, father of two sons). The gypsy’s daughter, Azucenza (mezzo soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis) takes revenge on the Earl by throwing her baby into the burning flames, only to realize that in the confusion she had mistakenly thrown her own son into the fire. Before Count di Luna dies, he tells his remaining son, (baritone Christopher Maltman) the new Count di Luna, to find Azucenza, believing his child may still be alive. In the midst of this great drama, a love triangle is brewing. The Princess’ lady-in-waiting, Leonora (soprano Latonia Moore), is madly in love with the troubadour, Manrico (tenor Gwyn Hughes Jones), and he with her, but the Earl is determined to have Leonora for himself. A tale of twists and turns ensues until the final notes deliver a startling and staggering conclusion.
Popular melodies fill the score. The Washington National Opera Chorus sings a remarkable “Anvil Chorus”, as well as “Or co’ dadi ma fra poco” (“Now we play dice”). Maltman sings a moving “Il balen del suo sorriso” (“The light of his smile”), showcasing his deep, agile baritone and intense musicality. Jones’ soaring tenor yields a memorable “Ah sì, ben mio, coll’essere” (“Ah, yes, my love, being yours”).
15th century Spanish soldiers invade the scene. Gypsies, nobility and dashing troubadours appear in detailed and exquisite costumes by Martin Pakledinaz. With Erhard Rom’s scenography, the action moves from a castle to a convent (with an enormous crucifix) and finally to a prison cell. Projected images by designer S. Katy Tucker set the tone, including a haunting figure of Azucena’s mother burning to death as her rich mezzo-soprano gives the audience a moving rendition of “Stride the vampa” (“The fire roars!”)
One of the most prolific composers in the history of opera, Verdi’s ‘Il trovatore’ is a must for all opera lovers, but also an accessible piece for those new to the art form. With this production, the Washington National Opera once again offers audiences world-class vocal art and opera at its finest.
Duration: approximately three hours with a 15-minute intermission.
“Il trovatore (The Troubadour)” runs through November 7, 2022 at the Opera House at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20566. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.