Il Trovatore at the Lyric Opera of Chicago has it all

Il Trovatore at the Lyric Opera of Chicago has it all
Tamara Wilson, Leonora, Jamie Barton, Azucena, Russell Thomas, Manrico, Artur Ruciński, Count di Luna. Roberto Tagliavini, Ferrando Lauren Decker, Ines Mario Rojas - Ruiz © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2018

Il Trovatore, now running at the Lyric Opera of Chicago has it all. Revenge, love, a duel, mistaken identity and jealousy plus the electrifying music of Giuseppe Verdi along with an outstanding international cast of new and returning artists providing for an exciting evening of entertainment. 

© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2018

© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2018

Sir David McVicar has created a visually powerful production set in tumultuous early 19th-century Spain with stark Goya-inspired staging. A highlight of the opera for many is the famous Anvil Chorus (Italian for "Gypsy chorus") that was prepared by Lyric’s chorus master Michael Black, and performed by the Lyric Opera Chorus,

Goya screen. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Goya screen. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

The springboard for the plot comes from a gypsy woman who was burned at the stake years ago for the supposed bewitching of Count di Luna's brother who was an infant at the time. She was burned at the stake as a punishment, all the while begging her daughter Azucena to avenge her death. 

Brilliant voices tell the story lead by Soprano Tamara Wilson who makes her Lyric debut as the tragic heroine Leonora and mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, who is pitch perfect as the gypsy Azucena seeking vengeance for her mother's death--both women providing inspiring vocal thrills throughout. 

Tenor Russell Thomas as Manrico, the troubadour, who will do anything for his love, Leonora and rival Polish baritone Artur Ruciński (Lyric debut) as Count di Luna who lusts after Leonora and plots to get her for his own, round out the principles.

© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2018

© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2018

The opera unfolds in four acts with a plot that has been called weirdly implausible by NPR (and others).

Whether one finds the plot plausible or not, the brilliant voices, captivating music and the vividly drawn characters are more than enough to make the production memorable.

Conductor Marco Armiliato and the Lyric Opera Orchestra bring terrific collective experience to the thrilling blood-and-thunder score. The original director of this production. Roy Rallo (Lyric debut) directs the revival, with set designs by Charles Edwards, costume designs by Brigitte Reiffenstuel, original lighting design by Jennifer Tipton, and revival lighting design by Chris Maravich.

Only six more performance dates of Il Trovatore remain. They are November 21, 25, 30 and December 3, 6, and 9. Performance times vary. For tickets and information call (312) 827-5600 or visit the Lyric Opera website.

Rating: 3.5 stars
Running time: 2 hours and 40 minutes including one 25 minute intermission

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Filed under: Lyric Opera

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