1, 37121 Verona VR
The 2019 Arena di Verona Opera Festival
Drama in 4 acts by Giuseppe Verdi-a story of love, jealousy, and retribution!
ACT I – The Duel
In the vestibule of the palace of Aljaferia in Saragoza, a group of sleepy guards await the return of the Count di Luna. A man is watching the apartments of Leonora, lady-in-waiting to the Queen of Aragon. He is obsessed with jealousy and fears that the young woman is being seduced by a mysterious troubadour who sings in the palace gardens every evening.
Ferrando, captain of the guards, seeks to keep his men awake by recounting the tragedy that hangs over the Count’s family. It is the story of a gypsy woman, burnt at the stake for witchcraft
on the orders of the Count di Luna’s father and of her daughter, Azucena who, out of revenge, abducts one of the nobleman’s children and burns him in the same place as her mother. Everyone curses Azucena: in fact, no-one knows where she is, but the actual Count, following his father’s death of a broken heart, continues looking for her.
Midnight chimes. The soldiers and the superstitious are convinced that the ghost of the gypsy burnt alive still lives and infests the castle.
In the public gardens, Leonora awaits her troubadour. She reveals her innermost secret to her friend, Ines: she had met him during a tournament of cavaliers but then the years of civil war had separated them. Now the young man has returned and he visits her each night, to serenade her. She loves him and admits she is even willing to die for him.
The women re-enter their rooms and the Count arrives, intending to declare his love to Leonora. He
stops, however, when he hears the troubadour’s voice in the distance. The situation instantly becomes heated. Leonora rushes out into the gardens and, deceived by the dark, finishes in the Count’s arms. The misunderstanding is clarified when the troubadour appears and reveals his identity: he is Manrico, not only the Count’s rival in love, but also a dangerous political enemy. The two challenge each other to a duel. Leonora faints and falls to the ground.
ACT II – The Gypsy
In a camp in the mountains of Biscay, the gypsies begin their work, hammering on anvils. A big fire burns. With her eyes fixed on the flames, Azucena starts singing a lugubrious song: she is continually obsessed by her mother’s pyre. Manrico, wounded in the duel with the Count, is beside her. Azucena tells him the story, already told by Ferrando, reliving the tragedy from her point of view. To avenge her mother’s death, in a raptus she abducted the old Count’s second child from his cradle, but in her frenzy she flung her own child into the fire, not the Count’s.
Disconcerted, Manrico then asks her whose son he is. Azucena regains her composure, tries to retract her involuntary confession and invites him not to take heed of idle talk. Almost as if driven by an unconscious call, the lad recounts that after having fought and won the duel with the Count, a
mysterious voice had told him to spare the Count’s life. The gypsy makes him swear that next time he will not listen to that voice and she urges him to take vengeance.
A messenger arrives to tell Manrico that Leonora believes he is dead and that she intends to enter a convent. The young man, notwithstanding his mother’s attempts to dissuade him, hurries off to the convent to impede Leonora from taking her vows.
Count di Luna has, however, already arrived at the convent near the Rock of Castellor and has hidden himself in the shadows, along with his guards. His intention is to abduct Leonora but his plan is thwarted by Manrico who appears with his henchmen, much to the stupor of all present (everyone had believed him dead). After having disarmed the Count and his men, Leonora flees with Manrico.
ACT III – The Gypsy’s Son
It is the eve of the battle. The Count’s troops set up camp near Castellor, the fortress in the hands of the rebels where Leonora and Manrico have taken refuge. The soldiers stop a gypsy, believing her to be a spy. It is Azucena. While she is being interrogated by Count di Luna, Ferrando recognizes
her as the woman who had abducted the Count’s brother many years previously. Under torture,
out of desperation, Azucena gives herself away by invoking Manrico’s name in the hope that he will come and save her. Count di Luna now realizes that the woman he has in his hands is not only the person who burnt his brother, but also the mother of his rival in love. He has her condemned to the stake.
Inside the fortress, Leonora and Manrico are preparing to marry. Leonora, however, is agitated by an awful presentiment. Manrico seeks to tranquillise her but he, too, is uneasy, filled with a sense of resignation. As they enter the church for the ceremony, news reaches them that Azucena has been captured and is to be burnt alive. Manrico musters all his men and with heroic dash, rushes off to save his mother.
ACT IV – The Torment
Manrico is defeated. He and his mother are imprisoned in the Palace of Aljaferia. At night Leonora, who has managed to disappear without trace, reaches the tower where her troubadour is imprisoned determined to save him. She will do anything, even marry the Count who has condemned Manrico to decapitation and the gypsy woman to the stake. Once the Count has promised her that Manrico will be spared, she secretly swallows some poison which she has hidden in her ring.
In a dark cell Azucena cannot sleep. She is obsessed by the vision of her mother in the flames. Manrico consoles her and finally the woman drops off, comforted by the illusion that one day she will return to a free life, and to the peace of their mountains.
Leonora rushes in, bringing a momentary ray of hope. She has come to free Manrico but she cannot leave with him. Manrico is suspicious and accuses her of having procured his freedom by betraying their love. But when he sees the effects of the poison, he realizes that she has remained loyal and is filled with remorse. She dies in his arms. The Count observes the scene, and realizing he has been deceived, sends Manrico to the scaffold immediately, forcing Azucena to witness the execution.
As the troubadour is beheaded, Azucena triumphantly reveals the mystery to the Count: Manrico was his brother. She has finally had revenge.