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Review: Books, Theatre, Albums, Movies and Gigs

Il Trovatore (The Troubadour)

The Liverpool Empire Theatre
October 18, 2007

Author: Giuseppe Verdi to a libretto by Salvadore Cammarano
Director: Peter Watson
Producer: The Welsh National Opera
Cast Includes: David Soar, Katia Pellegrino, Dario Solari, Luis Chapa,
Anne-Marie Owens, Sian Meinir.
Running Time: 2 hrs 40 mins

Image: Il trovatore  promotional image


Verdi, in transporting Antonio Carcia Guttiereze’s play into the world of Opera in 1853, decided on recreating a piece more convoluted than the O.J. Simpson acquittal and only a little less confusing than England’s appearance in the Rugby World Cup final. Oh what a tangled web we weave … and all that stuff … has never been more appropriate; a tale of sibling rivalry in which neither man knows that their rival is their sibling, who both fall in love with the same woman. When one of the rivals, Manrico (Chapa) finds their rival, di Luna (Solari) has taken his mother captive, he forsakes the woman, who in turn poisons herself to free the first rival (come on, keep up) from the clutches of the second rival, and dies just at the point the mother, Azucena (Owens) reveals that both rivals are brothers.
Simple really, given that the plot’s focal point takes place fifteen year’s before the opera even starts with the purported burning of a baby we never see.

All good conflicting, angst riddled stuff in which opera generally thrives, except in this production, however, their is something a little soulless about the whole thing at first, to the point that even the famous Anvil Chorus seems tired. Where sparks should be flying in a gypsy camp, we were instead treated to the odd mild clunk.

There were, of course, moments of great passion and these in the main were delivered by Katia Pellegrino in the role Leonora, the loved woman, who quite simply has a voice that could make the dead weep, such is its soaring and resonant control and clarity. Equally as moving are David Soar as Ferrando and Dario Solari as the Count di Luna, who manage to instil seething emotions into their vocal powers that can only be acclaimed as breathtaking. Opera singers are not renowned for their acting abilities it has to be said, so at times it’s a little like watching a second rate Australian soap from that respect, but nonetheless it is the music that more than makes up for the lack of thespianism on display.

With a set made up of grey blocks that mirror perfectly the wastes of the human heart when it becomes broken, the chorus and orchestra do – especially during the latter stages of the work – manage perk things up considerably and so leave the audience applauding enthusiastically and appreciatively at the opera’s depressing and somewhat hopeless finale.

Oh what a tangled web, indeed.
Chris High.

Click here to view details and book for the Liverpool Empire Theatre
http://www.getlive.co.uk/liverpool


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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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