Il Trovatore has been ruthlessly parodied. It is a tale of murder and mayhem, burned babies, roasted hags, would-be nuns, strolling minstrels, and bad baritones. And indeed the libretto does call for a willing suspension of disbelief. The reward is in the music, a score as prodigally melodic as only the mature Verdi could write: the "Anvil" chorus, the "Miserere" scene, two great tenor arias, a beautiful baritone aria - a richness without embarrassment.
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Thomson Smillie's series of Opera Explained audiobooks on individual operatic works is the perfect introduction for the would-be opera fan. Each title in the series runs about an hour, features plenty of recorded clips, and is narrated with pluck and good humor by David Timson. Your opera education starts here.
Following its 1853 premiere, Verdi's Il Trovatore, or "The Troubador", has been an opera staple. Set in the 15th century, the opera features a wild plot full of gypsies, executions, and other feats of high drama. When you hear someone making fun of opera for its outlandishness, Il Trovatore is probably the object of their ridicule. But it also features some of opera's greatest works, including the Anvil chorus and soaring pieces for soprano voices.
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