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Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
An Introduction to Il trovatore
Written by Thomson Smillie and narrated by David Timson
With musical excerpts from the Naxos production of Il trovatore – Naxos 8.660023-24
With Daniela Longhi as Leonora, Irina Tschistiakova as Azucena,
Maurizio Frusoni as Manrico and Roberto Servile as the Count di Luna
Budapest Festival Chorus and Hungarian State Opera Orchestra/Will Humburg
NAXOS 8.558079 [79:18]


Canny folk they are at Naxos. This educational tool is just one in a growing series (the 17th) of excellent albums introducing young (and of course not so young) people to the world of opera. And, again, Naxos prove that you really do not need to have world-famous singers to enjoy opera. The 1996 Naxos production of Il trovatore is most convincing with some excellent dramatic singing from the leads.

Thomas Smillie has written not only a splendid commentary to the excerpts that includes all the big numbers of this popular opera (with the barmiest libretto but the most sublime music - so many wonderfully melodic and dramatic arias and choruses), but also some twenty minutes of valuable introductory material. This includes a fascinating look at Italy’s history in the 19th century (the time of the Risorgimento – Verdi, friend of Count Cavour, of course, was active in Italian politics). There is also an overview of the Verdi’s operas, concentrating on the three major works of his middle period, Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La traviata. One of Naxos’s busiest readers, David Timson, delivers a clear and expressive narration.

Recommended to those eager to know more about Il trovatore (and Verdi’s operas). An ideal sampler for Naxos’s splendid 1996 recording.

Ian Lace



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