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Il Trovatore

Opera Background

ComposerGiuseppe Verdi
Salvadore Cammarano, Leone Emanuele Badare
Date of PremierJanuary 19, 1852
Number of ActsFour
Music LengthTwo Hours, Twenty Minutes

Il Trovatore is one of Giuseppe Verdi’s most popular and critically acclaimed operas. It tells an intricate story of rivals, lovers, soldiers and gypsies, and is full of famous musical numbers.

Quick Answers

What is a Troubadour (Italian: Trovatore)

A troubadour (trovatore in Italian) was a poet/musician of knightly rank in the 11th to 13th century in France and Italy.


  • Count di Luna, a nobleman (baritone)
  • Ferrando, captain of Count Di Luna’s guards (bass)
  • Leonora, a noblelady (soprano)
  • Manrico, a troubadour and officer (tenor)
  • Azucena, a gypsy (mezzo-soprano)
  • Ines, friend of Leonora (soprano)
  • Ruiz, Manrico’s henchman (tenor)
  • an old gypsy (bass)
  • Messanger (tenor)

Il Trovatore Full Synopsis

Full Synopsis – Act 1

Act one opens with Ferrando ordering his guards to stay vigilant throughout the night (“All’erta, all’erta” – “Look sharp”). He explains that their count (Count di Luna) will be pacing beneath the window of Leonora, who he loves, but they are cautious of another one of Leonora’s lovers, the troubadour. The guards urge him to tell the story of the count, to which Ferrando complies (“Di due figli” – “Of two sons”). He says Count di Luna Senior was once a happy man, and a father of two sons. One night, the nurse of one of his young sons wakes up to find a sinister old gypsy bewitching the son, although she claimed to only be telling his future. The child began to run a fever, and the gypsy was caught and burned, and her daughter swore to avenge her. The gypsy’s daughter went on to abduct the child, who’s bones were found in the ashes of the burnt gypsy. Count di Luna refused to believe his son was dead, and made his other son (Count di Luna junior) swear to never stop looking for his brother, and to seek Azucena, the Gypsy’s daughter.

“Di due figli” by opera singer Stefan Kocan

In the garden of the Princesses palace, Leonora waits up late into the night for the troubadour (“Che più t’arresti?” – “Why wait here any longer?”). Ines asks her how her love for him started, and she replies that the spark of love started when seeing him as a warrior at the tournament. She had placed a wreath of victory on his head, but as the war started he was never to be seen again. Ines inquires as to what happens next, to which Leonora begins to recall the events that proceeded (“Tacea la notte” – “The night was silent”). One night, she heard the sound of a lute and a voice singing her name. When she went to the balcony she saw the troubadour and fell instantly in love.

Barbara Frittoli sings “Tacea la notte placida” at La Scala

After Leonora and Ines exit, the count walks into the garden and sings of his passionate love for Leonora. He soon hears the Troubadour in the distance playing music and singing and is angered (“Deserto sulla terra” – “All alone on the earth”). Hearing Leonora come into the garden, the count backs away, but she spots him. Mistaking the count for the troubadour, she begins to tell him how long she’s waited for him, but soon the troubadour enters and she runs into his arms (“Infida!”…”Qual voce!” – “Faithless!…”That voice!”). The count demands he announce himself, and the troubadour proudly introduces himself as Manrico, an officer of a rival prince. They exchange threats and finally draw swords in preparation to duel. Despite Leonora’s efforts to stop them, they begin to duel (“Di geloso amor sprezzato” – “My spurned and jelous love”). The scene ends.

Barbara Frittoli, Salvatore Licitra, and Leo Nucci perform “Infida!” and “Di geloso amor sprezzato”

Full Synopsis – Act 2

Act 2 opens at the gypsies camp, where the group of Gypsies are working around the camp (“Vedi! le fosche notturne spoglie” – “You see! The gloomy nocturnal remains” aka “the anvil chorus”).

The Anvil Chorus from the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Verdi’s Il Trovatore

In the middle of the camp, Azucena still recalls the events of her mother’s burning in horror, and swears revenge (“Stride la vampa!…Mesta è la tua canzon!” – “The flame crackles!…Your song is a sad one!”). The gypsies leave and Azucena is left alone with Manrico. He asks her to tell him the story, to which she obliges, telling him her side of the story (“Solo or siamo” – “We’re alone now”). She tells Manrico that they accused her of witchcraft and as she burned she yelled to Azucena “avenge me”, which she will never forget. She goes on to say that she stole the count’s son and brought him to the fire, but in a delirium she accidentally grabbed her own son and threw him in the flames instead of the Count’s child (“Condotta ell’ era in ceppi” – “She was lead to the stocks”).

Ekaterina Semenchuk performs “solo or siamo” and “Condotta ell’era in ceppi” at La Scala

Manrico is puzzled and asks Azucena if he is truly not her son (“Non son tuo figlio?” – “I am not your son?”). She replies that she has brought him up as her own son, and Manrico reassures her that he loves her as a mother. Manrico tells Azucena of his recent duel with di Luna (“Mal reggendo all’aspro assalto” – “Fighting off poorly my fierce attack”). He says that di Luna fell to the floor, but as he was about to stab him, a mysterious force came to him and told him to stop. Azucena is distraught, and makes Manrico swear that if he finds himself in the position again he must kill di Luna. Manrico swears.

Luciano Pavarotti as Manrico sings “Mal reggenso all’aspro assalto” at the Metropolitan

A messenger appears with an update of the war. Manrico is being ordered to defend a castle, and is also told that Leonora, thinking Manrico is dead, is about to go into the convent. Azucena pleads with Manrico to stay, but he cannot be stopped from his heart, and rushes out(“Perigliarti ancor languente” – “To risk yourself, still sickly”).

In front of the convent, Count di Luna, Ferrando, and the rest of di Luna’s attendants plan to stop Leonora (“Tutto è deserto” – “All is deserted”). Ferrando warns of the dangers, but di Luna sings of his deep love for her (“Il balen del suo sariso” – “The flashing of her smile”), and orders them to proceed.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky sings “Il balen del suo sorriso”

A distant bell announces the ceremony for Leonora, and di Luna’s men exclaim they must abduct her quick, and proceed to hide. The choir of nuns arrives with Ines and Leonora singing of the ceremony. Leonora asks Ines why she is crying (“Perche piangete”), to which Ines tells her she is saddened by her leaving forever. Leonora consoles her, but as she heads to the alter the count bursts in, demanding that she come with him to the alter instead. Manrico arrives at the scene, and Leonora cannot believe her eyes, as she believed Manrico to be dead. She sings of her joy (“E deggio…e posso crederlo?” – “Must I…Can I believe it?”). In the ensuing commotion and fighting between the men, Leonora leaves with Manrico.

Anna Netrebko sings in “Ah, se l’error t’ingmbra” and “E deggio, e posso crederlo” in a performance of Il Trovatore at the Arena di Verona

Full Synopsis – Act 3

Di Luna’s soldiers are all gathered outside awaiting dawn for their attack on Castellor (“Or co’ dadi ma fra poco…” – “Now we play dice, but soon…”). Ferrando is eager to dive into to battle, conquering the enemy and claiming glory and their riches. The soldiers begin to echo his excitement, claiming that there has never been a victory more certain than this (“Squilli, echeggi la tromba” – “Let the trumpet lead us into battle”).

Count Di Luna quickly sings of his longing for Leonora, and it is revealed that Manrico is indeed inside Castellor with Leonora (“In braccio al mio rival!” – “In the arms of my rival!”). He is interrupted by Ferrando, who tells him that a suspected gypsy spy has been captured at the camp. Soon, Azucena is pulled in by the guards.

Di Luna begins to question Azucena who claims that wandering aimlessly is the Gypsy way. When asked where she’s from, Azucena sings of living poor but happily near Biscay (“Giorni poveri vivea” – “I lived there in poverty”). She tells of bringing up her son, who selfishly left her, leaving her to wander the world alone looking for him. Azucena is questioned whether she remembers an event where a child was stolen from the castle. Realizing who he is, Azucena grows concerned and begs to be let go. Ferrando tells her to stay, and informs Di Luna that this is the woman that committed the crime.

Di Luna orders her bonds to be tightened, exclaiming that she shall not escape again. Frightened, Azucena cries out for her son Manrico to come and save her. Di Luna and his soldiers are shocked to hear that the women they have in captivity is not only the killer of Di Luna’s brother, but also Manrico’s mother.

Inside the castle, Leonora is concerned at the clamour of fighting outside (“Quale d’armi fragor” – “What sound of arms”). Manrico admits that their situation is grim, and that the castle will be sieged by dawn. But he is still hopeful and optimistic with his soldiers’ chances to prevail. He entrusts a soldier to carry out his orders, and returns to Leonora to proceed with marrying her.

Manrico sings of his love to Leonora, and tells her that even if he should die at the hands of an enemy, it only means that he will await her in heaven (“Ah! sì, ben mio” – “Ah! Yes, my love”)

Luciano Pavarotti sings “Ah! si, ben mio” at the Metropolitan Theater in 1988

The temple doors open and the couple are about to proceed wth their vows of marriage, but Ruiz enters and tells Manrico that the gypsy has been captured and is to be burned (“L’onda de’ suoni mistici” – “The wave of mystic sounds”). Manrico tells Leonora that he is indeed her son, and calls for his men to gather and go for her. He countinues to sing of his love for his mother, and how he will rush to her side to save her, or die with her (“Di quella pira l’ orrendo foco” – “The flames of that terrible pyre”).

Jonas Kaufmann sings “Di quella pira”

Full Synopsis – Act 4

Ruiz leads Leonora onto the stage, and explains that they have arrived at the tower where Manrico is being held after being captured by Di Luna’s men (“Siam giunti; ecco la torre” – “We have arrived; Here is the tower”). Leonora is left alone, determined to save Manrico. She sings a sorrowful song of the postition her and her lover have found themselves in (“D’ amor sull’ ali rosee” – “On the rosy wings of love”).

Leontyne Price sings “D’amor sull’ali rosee”

Leonora hears voices praying for Manrico and is further driven mad by the prospect of Manrico’s impending death (“Miserere d’un’alma” – “Have mercy on his soul”). She hears Manrico call out for her to never forget him, and sings of her eternal love for him (“Tu vedrai che amore” – “You will never see such love”). She is determined to die with Manrico.

Anna Netrebko sings “Miserere d’un’alma”

Count Di Luna enters the room, and instructs his soldiers that at dawn Manrico shall receive the axe, while his mother burns at the stake (“Udite? Come albeggi” – “Do you hear me? At dawn”). Di Luna expresses his frustration for still not having found Leonora, but at that moment she announces herself (“A te davante.” – “Before you”). She asks Di Luna to have mercy on Manrico, to which he strongly protests. In desperation, Leonora begins to beg Di Luna to take her life in place of Manrico’s (“Mira, di acerbe lagrime” – “See the river of my bitter tears”). The count responds that the more she loves him the more his fury grows.

Hearing Di Luna say that no price could save Manrico, Leonora responds that there is one. She offers herself to Di Luna in exchange for Manrico’s freedom. Di Luna is in disbelief, and after having Leonora swear that she will marry him, the count agrees, and proclaims that he shall live. Without the count seeing she takes a drink of poison, determined to die before she gives herself to Di Luna. She sings of her joy for gaining his freedom and plans to tell him he’s free as she loses her life (“Vivrà!… contende il giubilo” – “He shall live!…Boundless joy”)

Anna Netrebko (Leonora) and Dmitri Hvorostovsky (di Luna) perform “Vivrà!… contende il giubilo” at a dress rehearsal at the Metropolitan Theater

The following scene opens on Manrico and his mother in captivity. Azucena is terrified by her impending death, Manrico attempts in vain to console her (“Madre?… non dormi?” – “Mother? You aren’t asleep?”). Azucena agrees to attempt to sleep as they both recollect happy times in the mountains long ago (“Sì, la stanchezza m’opprime” – “Yes, the fatigue opresses me”). Azucena falls asleep.

Placido Domingo and Fiorenza Cossotto perform “Sì, la stanchezza m’opprime” in 1978 at Vienna Staatsoper

Suddenly, Leonora arrives and tells Manrico that she has come to save him (“Ciel!.. non m’inganna quel fioco lume?…” – “Heavens! .. Does not that dim light deceive me? …”). She begs Manrico to flee, but he hesitates, and asks her who has granted his freedom, and at what cost. He figures out that she has sold her love to Di Luna and is angered (“Parlar non vuoi?” – “Won’t you speak?”).

Manrico orders Leonora to leave, but she reveals to him that she has taken poison (“Ti scosta” – “Leave”). She reveals that she would only die as his woman (“Prima che d’altri vivere” – “Before others live”).Di Luna arrives, realizing that he has been tricked. Leonora lays in Manrico’s arms, says farewell, and dies. Di Luna immedietly orders Manrico to the block. As he is dragged away Azucena awakens to her son being carried away, and as the count forces her to watch his execution, she tells Di Luna that he has just murdered his brother. He cries out in horror as Azucena cries out to her avenged mother.

“Prima che d’ altri vivere” performed in Vienna, 1978.

Musical Numbers

Musical Numbers – Act 1

  • Overture
  • “All’erta, all’erta”: Ferrando tells his guards to stay vigilant through the night
  • Di due figli“: Ferrando tells the story of the count
  • “Che più t’arresti?”: Leonora waits in the garden for her love
  • “Tacea la notte”: Leonora tells Ines of how she fell in love with the troubadour
  • “Deserto sulla terra”: The troubadour is heard singing in the distance
  • “Infida!”…”Qual voce!”: The troubadour confronts the count in the garden
  • Di geloso amor sprezzato“: Count di Luna and Manrico begin to duel

Musical Numbers – Act 2

  • “Vedi! le fosche notturne spoglie”: Gypsies work around their camp
  • “Stride la vampa!…Mesta è la tua canzon!”: Azucena sings of her mother’s burning and her revengeful heart
  • “Solo or siamo”: Manrico asks Azucena to tell him more about what had happened
  • “Condotta ell’ era in ceppi”: Azucena recounts the events the night of her mother’s burning
  • “Non son tuo figlio?”: Manrico reassures Azucena that he loves her as a mother
  • “Mal reggendo all’aspro assalto”: Manrico tells Azucena of his duel with Count di Luna
  • Perigliarti ancor languente“: Despite Azucena’s pleading, Manrico rushes off to help in the war and stop Leonora from entering the convent
  • “Tutto è deserto”: di Luna and his attendents plan to take Leonora from the convent
  • “Il balen del suo sariso”: di Luna sings of his love for Leonora
  • “Ah!… se l’error t’ingombra”: The choir of nuns sings at the start of Leonora’s ceremony
  • “Perche piangete”: Leonora consoles Ines
  • “E deggio…e posso crederlo?”: Leonora is overjoyed at seeing Manrico

Musical Numbers – Act 3

  • “Or co’ dadi ma fra poco”: Di Luna’s soldiers gather and await their attack on Castellor
  • “Squilli, echeggi la tromba”: The soldiers sing of their certain victory
  • “Giorni poveri vivea”: Azucena is captured and questioned by Di Luna’s soldiers
  • “Quale d’armi fragor”: Leonora expressed her concerns at the fighting outside the castle
  • “Ah! sì, ben mio”: Manrico puts Leonora’s worries at ease, singing of his love for her
  • “Di quella pira l’ orrendo foco”: Manrico gathers his men to prepare to save his mother

Musical Numbers – Act 4

  • “Siam giunti; ecco la torre” – Ruiz leads Leonora to the tower where Manrico is being held captive
  • “D’ amor sull’ ali rosee”: Leonora musters her strength to go and rescue her love
  • “Miserere d’un’alma”: Leonora sings along with voices praying for Manrico’s soul
  • “Tu vedrai che amore” : Leonora ensures Manrico of her everlasting love for him
  • “Udite? Come albeggi”: Count Di Luna gives the orders to execute Manrico and his mother
  • “A te davante”: Leonora announces herself in front of the Count
  • “Mira, di acerbe lagrime”: Leonora begs for Di Luna to have mercy on Manrico
  • “Vivrà!… contende il giubilo”: Leonora is joyed at gaining Manrico’s freedom
  • Madre?… non dormi?“: Manrico tries to console Azucena
  • “Sì, la stanchezza m’opprime”: Azucena and Manrico recall happier times in the mountains
  • “Ciel!.. non m’inganna quel fioco lume?…”: Leonora arrives to tell Manrico she has come to save him
  • “Parlar non vuoi?”: Manrico finds out how Leonora gained his freedom
  • “Ti scosta”: Leonora reveals to Manrico that she has taken poiso
  • “Prima che d’altri vivere”: Leonora says farewell as she dies in Manrico’s arms