"May the radiance of her gaze calm the tempest in my heart."
- Il Trovatore, Act II, scene 2
In the aftermath of Rigoletto, Verdi’s sole desire was to do something new. However, he became impatient, angry even, when the project to adapt El Trovador, the play by the Spanish dramatist Antonio García Gutiérrez, aroused only guarded enthusiasm from Salvatore Cammarano, his librettist, and the man to whom Donizetti owed in part the success of Lucia di Lammermoor. Was it due to the libretto's inordinately improbable storyline or the illness that would ultimately consume him that the poet left the libretto unfinished? Despite the urgings of the irrepressible Verdi, Cammarano would not yield. Herein lies the paradox of Il Trovatore: in the eyes of its detractors it was the epitome of melodrama and yet the formal constraints imposed by Cammarano fanned the flames of the composer’s passions.
Rather than true characters – excepting perhaps Azucena the Gypsy, who guards the secret that will destroy them all – the music portrays almost abstract figures consumed by passion. Originally intended by Verdi to be a secondary role, Leonora takes on the status of a sacrificial heroine. Her fourth-act cavatina “D’amor sull’ali rosee” is not so much a farewell as an Assumption. Anna Netrebko carries this enraptured music to new heights. She is accompanied by Ekaterina Semenchuk, Marcelo Alvarez and Ludovic Tézier, in a new production by Alex Ollé.