'Il Trovatore in Naples',
reviewed by GIUSEPPE PENNISI
though Il Trovatore is one of the three Verdioperas generally referred to as the 'popular trilogy', and in the nineteenth and the first
part of the twentieth centuries it was staged as often as the other two
operas — Rigoletto and Traviata — it seems now to not be as often performed. I
could not find any recent review in M&V, for example. In the latter part of the twentieth century, musicologists considered it a step backward
from Rigoletto because of its unabashedly formalistic approach when compared with the freer form of the
previous opera. More recently, it has been generally accepted
that Il Trovatore has a great deal of innovation: each of its
eight scenes is a complex musical number by itself based on a specific
theme although within each scene there are arias, duets and trios. Also, within each scene/number,
homage is paid to Donizetti's melodrama and even to Bellini's belcanto.
casting Il Trovatore there is always a major question mark: are
there nowadays the kind of voices required for the four main roles with the
musical energy to stir the enthusiasm of the audience? This is, in my view, the key question to be
addressed when reviewing the Trovatore that returned after ten
years on 12 December 2014 to inaugurate the 2014-2015 Teatro San Carlo
opera season in Naples. This review is based on the 14 December
matinée performance which featured the same cast as on 12 December.
start an opera season with Il Trovatore is a bold decision for
musical, not for dramaturgical reasons. Thus, only a few words on Michal Znaniecki's staging: a single set by
Luigi Scoglio, projections by Michal Rovner and costumes by Giusi Giustino. The action is moved to the 1936-39 Spanish War; it is not much of an innovation — ie in Budapest for nearly ten years the Conte di Luna and his
armies wore Francisco Franco uniforms, whilst Manrico and gypsies seemed
Republicans. The only exception is Leonora in elegant eighteen fifties silk dresses — a way to
separate the innocent and pure character from the war between brothers not aware of
their blood link. It was quite an effective staging with good acting.
most interesting part was Nicola Luisotti's musical direction. Luisotti is about to leave Naples to devote
his time and efforts almost entirely to the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House. He conducted each of the eight scenes with a terse and swift
style which gave the opera almost a movierhythm: with a single intermission, the total duration
was a short two and an half hours.
four key voices were quite good, compatible with what is available on
today's market. Marco Berti was a generous Manrico, even though now he is
a bit ordinary. Ekaterina Semenchuk was a high level Azucena who could reach a very low register.
Juan Jesús Rodríguez was a Conte di Luna with the right timbre for a baritone-in-love. YoungArmenian Lianna Haroutounian was a soprano able to move from belcanto in the second scene
to the highly dramatic arias in the latter part of the performance.
was rewarded with accolades by the San Carlo audience.