[Met Performance] CID:353605
New Production
Il Trovatore {600} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/16/2009.

(Debuts: David McVicar, Charles Edwards, Brigitte Reiffenstuel, Leah Hausman

Metropolitan Opera House
February 16, 2009 Broadcast/Streamed

New Production

Giuseppe Verdi--Salvatore Cammarano

Manrico.................Marcelo Álvarez
Leonora.................Sondra Radvanovsky
Count Di Luna...........Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Azucena.................Dolora Zajick
Ferrando................Kwangchul Youn
Ines....................Maria Zifchak
Ruiz....................Eduardo Valdes
Messenger...............David Lowe
Gypsy...................Robert Maher

Conductor...............Gianandrea Noseda

Production..............David McVicar [Debut]
Set Designer............Charles Edwards [Debut]
Costume Designer........Brigitte Reiffenstuel [Debut]
Lighting Designer.......Jennifer Tipton
Choreographer...........Leah Hausman [Debut]

Production a gift of The Annenberg Foundation

Il Trovatore is a co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago and San Francisco Opera

Broadcast live on Sirius and XM Metropolitan Opera Radio
Streamed at metopera.org

Il Trovatore received 15 performances this season

Production photos of Il Trovatore by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.

Review of David J. Baker in the May 2009 issue of Opera News

After two less-than-satisfactory productions of "Il Trovatore" in the past two decades, the Met has finally made a welcome course correction. Musically and dramatically this new version (seen Feb. 16) restores a degree of credibility to a work that's often dismissed and parodied as opera at its silliest.

Scottish director David McVicar is known for filling the stage with extra characters, images and incidents, as he did in last year's Salome at Covent Garden. More focused and selective in this coproduction (already seen in Chicago and due for San Francisco in the fall), he devises a "Trovatore" that's physical and aggressive - throbbing to the pulse of Verdi's score while exposing the sexual tensions inherent in the libretto.

Emblematic of that approach is the animal ferocity of McVicar's anvil chorus. All this sweat and muscle is made possible by updating the action to the nineteenth century - Zola's nineteenth century, not Hugo's - when the industrial revolution made work noisier, dirtier and more dangerous. Charles Edwards's set revolves from prison-like interiors to scorched landscapes, tinted by Jennifer Tipton's lighting to imitate a nightmarish Francisco Goya tableau The martial scenes muster as many camp followers as soldiers.

We find di Luna and Manrico literally at each other's throats, and they grab and pull at an almost objectified Leonora. But she is not the passive, overstuffed mannequin of tradition. Brigitte Reiffenstuel's costume designs recall nature's way with birds - finery on the males, streamlining for the females. That simplicity makes the most of Sondra Radvanovsky's lithe, graceful energy. Leonora's Act I narrative becomes a confession, almost a reenactment, of erotic awakening, with the heroine supine on the floor at one point. The sexual bargain struck with di Luna in Act IV acquires more urgency than usual.

Gianandrea Noseda shaped an energetic, lilting performance, nearly ideal in its flexibility and punch. The glory of the evening was Radvanovsky's Leonora. This artist's confidence as a Verdian, whatever the tempo or volume, seems to grow with each role. As in last season's "Ernani," the firm, bright tone had a pliant strength that brought phrases and sometimes entire ensembles to life. There was a bit more steel than honey in some of her top soft notes on this occasion, but she used that edge in solos, especially her soaring "D'amor sull'ali rosee" in Act IV, to dramatize the high-strung nature of this youthful, feminine Leonora.

Marcelo Alvarez, who stepped in as Manrico when Salvatore Licitra withdrew from the production before rehearsals began, made a proud, feisty hero. A certain hamminess in his diction seemed appropriate - a reminder that he did not coast at any moment in the score. There were urgent recitatives, powerful accents in the stretto with Azucena and a well-managed "Di quella pira" with panache rather than force. The preceding cavatina "Ah sě! ben mio" was warm and expressive, despite some chopped-off phrases in the cadenza.

Most of this dark, gritty "Il Trovatore" revolved around the intense, confident but physically almost immobile Azucena of Dolora Zajick. She wields a mean knife, however, and a bracing tone, with thrillingly exaggerated chest tones. Conversely, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, as di Luna, was athletic and brutal in body language but overpowered vocally, except in his mellifluous "II balen." Bass Kwangchul Youn sang a fine, strongly profiled Ferrando.

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