Il Trovatore, opera by Giuseppe Verdi on a libretto by Salvatore Cammarano, based on the Spanish drama El Trovador by A. Garcia Gutierrez. First performed at the Teatro Apollo in Rome on 16 january 1853. Performance at the Arena di Verona on 4 July 2019.
Il Conte di Luna: Luca Salsi
Leonora: Anna Netrebko
Azucena: Dolora Zajick
Manrico: Yusif Eyvazov
Ferrando: Riccardo Fassi
Ines: Elisabetta Zizzo
Ruiz: Carlo Bosi
Arena di Verona Orchestra and Chorus
Conductor: Pier Giorgio Morandi
Director: Franco Zeffirelli
There was only one star in this Trovatore : Anna Netrebko.
Her voice had darkened a little bit in the lower register since I heard her last in Baden-Baden in a Verdi concert. The top has become even more beautiful. Her singing was exceptional, both in the lyrical parts as well as in the dramatic ones. Her “Tacea la notte placida” was extremely beautiful and “D’amor sull’ali rosee” was even exceptional with a sublime cadenza at the end. The audience gave her an enthusiastic ovation for it – the biggest and longest of the evening. Anna filled the Arena with her singing, interpretation and acting. She rose above everyone else in the cast.
The Arena in Verona is a special place for Opera. And it has been so for more than 100 years. All big stars of their time have sung here. From Callas and Corelli to Caballé and Domingo. Now it was time for Anna Netrebko to make her debut in the Arena. The first night was on June 29th. This was the second performance in a series of three.
If you like traditional staging and hate modern directors who burden you with crap, then Zefirelli’s Trovatore is for you. It was staged for the first time in 2001 and matured well. Zefirelli recently died. This performance is also in his honor.
The stage is dominated by three huge towers. The one in the middle opens up spectacularly in the convent scene to reveal a brightly illuminated golden chapel. Otherwise there is plenty of war gear on stage. The gipsy scene is transformed by brightly colored drapery. The staging is best when huge crowds (chorus and ballet) are on stage. Otherwise the principles seem quite lost in huge empty spaces. In the convent scene Leonora and Manrico mount two horses and Anna and Yusif even sing sitting on the horses. When they leave the stage on horseback the Arena crowd exploded in a spontaneous applause, not even waiting for the music to finish.
The big chorus scenes are spectacular and very impressive. In act three the seldom played ballet was performed after the soldier chorus which the audience appreciated a lot.
The costumes are straight forward. Soldiers and gypsies – dark and colorful. The lightening was dark when appropriate and exploded into spectacular colored mass scenes in the gypsy camp and convent scene. “Di quella pira” was lighted adequately with flames in the background.
Yusif Eyvazov as Manrico showed what an experienced and professional tenor he is. The proof of which was heard in “Ah sì, ben mio” and “Di quella pira” which he delivered with great fervor. Unfortunately he is not endowed with a beautiful voice or an exciting timbre. This makes it difficult for many people to love his performance. Still he was a very good Manrico and I think he gets better every time I hear him.
Luca Salsi made a lot of use of his beautiful baritone as Count Luna. “Il balen” was very slow and almost got him into trouble once or twice. Strangely his overall performance left me cold. What a fine singing but dull Count Luna.
Dolores Zajick made Acuzena her own role over 20 years ago. This evening one could still hear what an expert mezzo she is. But age takes its toll and there was often just not enough power to fill the Arena. Sometimes I could barely hear her.
Riccardo Fassi as Ferrando sang impressively with beautiful timbre and great agility.
The chorus was very reliable and performed impressively in the big chorus scenes.
The orchestra under the baton of Riccardo Fassi was very subdued. This is partially due to the acoustics in the Arena, which favors the singers. But knowing this, Morandi could have applied more dynamics and fervor.
This was a very enjoyable performance with a superb Anna Netrebko.
Kurt Gilek (published on 6 July 2019)