An Imaginative Production
'Il Trovatore' in San Diego,
reviewed by MARIA NOCKIN
Like any working opera composer, Giuseppe Verdi spent a great deal of time looking for suitable dramas on which to base new operas. Often he perused Italian and French plays and novels, but he was not fluent in Spanish. The lady who would one day become his wife, Giuseppina Strepponi, read Spanish well, however. She recommended that he consider El Trovador by Antonio García Gutiérrez because it contained the kind of emotionally intense situations that he valued in a work for the opera stage. The play, El Trovador, had been a notable success in Madrid during the 1836 season. Fifteen years later, when its ability to entertain the public had been proven, it was ready to be the basis of an opera libretto.
Hao Jiang Tian as Ferrando surrounded by members of the San Diego Opera Chorus in Verdi's 'Il Trovatore'. Photo © 2007 Ken Howard
Salvatore Cammarano was selected to construct that libretto. Verdi wrote that he hoped his librettist could provide him with originality and freedom of form, and he went on to state his preference for an opera that would be a unified, dramatic whole without individual arias and ensembles. That was not to be and, for various reasons, Verdi was not happy with Cammarano's first draft. He complained saying that several scenes were lacking in originality. He also said that a most important character, Azucena, had lost her charm. After that, the composer gave his librettist minutely detailed instructions concerning the opera's most important scenes so that the resulting libretto was much more to his liking.
Priti Gandhi as Inez (left) and Paoletta Marrocu as Leonora in the San Diego Opera production of Verdi's 'Il Trovatore'. Photo © 2007 Ken Howard
Copyright © 16 April 2007
Maria Nockin, Arizona USA