When explaining the story line of Verdi’s Il Trovatore, it sounds juicier than a reality television show in which Conte di Luna loves Leonora but Leonora is devoted to Manrico, and Manrico’s mother is the woman who killed di Luna’s brother because she was avenging her own mother’s death. If it sounds complicated, the story actually unfolds beautifully and the Canadian Opera Company’s take on this tale of vengeance, rivalry and love does not disappoint.
This performance is phenomenally cast with the four leads each bringing richness in their voices and power in their performances both together and individually. Particularly, Ramón Vargas as Manrico and Elena Manistina as his mother Azucena deliver a delicious harmony when on stage together. Individually, Elza van den Heever as Leonora has a voice that sends heartbreaking chills down one’s spine. You can close your eyes and still feel the pain evoked through the devastating emotion delivered through voice alone.
Supporting these voices are the visual artistry, which aid in igniting the senses at the Four Seasons Centre. Each scene has a unique set between open and close of the curtain. This is quite a feat for an opera and did cause for additional time between scenes, however when the curtain rises, you are only astonished by how much has changed in so little time.
The most stunning set by Jean-Noël Lavesvre was the two massive landscape paintings where the lovers meet in darkness – only further punctuated by the lighting designs of Marc Delamézière. This production is lit beautifully, most notably with the use of the chorus and set work in the convent scene of Act II.
The only disconnect is the costuming, as the women seemed entirely too tied down by their pieces and the soldiers and rebels appear out of sync with each other in terms of agreeing on a time period.
Il Trovatore is a classic Italian tragedy and a reminder of why I love going to the opera. As mentioned above, it is a treat for the senses. The music and the voices stimulate the ears and the sets are a treat for the eyes. The dramatic and seemingly abrupt ending leaves the viewer with questions (without providing any spoilers) of whether you understood the motivations of the characters at all.
Hear and feel Il Trovatore at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts through Oct 31, 2012. For tickets, visit coc.ca