Take a medieval Spanish melodrama, dial it up to 100, add phenomenal music, and you have Verdi’s Il Trovatore. Set in the 15th century, Il Trovatore tells of vengeance across generations, with a noble lady following her heart, brothers who don’t know they are brothers, several duels, and a climactic secret.

From its thrilling music to its over-the-top plot, Il Trovatore is opera at its most visceral, with the famous Anvil Chorus and dramatic arias for every character. Join us for obsession, fury, and romance, all packed into this most operatic of operas.

Il Trovatore

Friday, November 6 at 8 PM
Sunday, November 8 at 2:30 PM
Overture Hall
Sung in Italian with projected English translations

Subscriptions to the 2020/21 season will be available in early June.
Single tickets on sale in September 2020

Il Trovatore

Music by Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Salvadore Cammarano
Premiered 19 January 1853, Teatro Apollo, Rome, Italy

Previously at MO: 2003

Spain, 15th century

Act I

Count di Luna is obsessed with Leonora, a noblewoman in the queen’s service, who does not return his love. Outside the royal residence, his soldiers keep watch at night. They have heard of an unknown troubadour serenading Leonora, and the jealous Count is determined to capture him. To keep his troops awake, the captain, Ferrando, recounts the terrible story of a gypsy woman who was burned at the stakes years earlier for bewitching the Count’s infant brother. The gypsy’s daughter took revenge by kidnapping the boy and throwing him into the flames where her mother had died. The charred skeleton of a baby was discovered there, and di Luna’s father died of grief soon after. The gypsy’s daughter disappeared, but di Luna has sworn to find her.

In the palace gardens, Leonora confides to her companion Ines that she met a mysterious knight at a tournament and fell in love with him. He is the troubadour who serenades her each night. After they have left, Count di Luna appears, looking for Leonora. When she hears the troubadour’s serenade in the darkness, Leonora rushes out to greet her beloved, but mistakenly embraces di Luna. The troubadour reveals his true identity: he is Manrico, leader of the partisan rebel forces. Furious, the Count challenges him to a duel.

Act II

In a mountain hideout, Manrico is recovering from being wounded in battle.  Azucena relates the story of her mother’s death and the tragic events at the pyre. Manrico asks whether he is really her son, and she hastens to reassure him. Manrico tells of the duel between him and the Count, and how he spared the Count’s life when he heard a voice from heaven bidding him to do so. A messenger arrives with orders for Manrico to take command of the forces defending the fortress of Castellor, at the same time bearing the news that Leonora is about to enter a convent, thinking Manrico is dead. Azcuena pleads with Manrico to stay.

Di Luna and his troops arrive at the convent to abduct Leonora, but his attempt is foiled when Manrico and his men appear. In the ensuing chaos, the lovers escape.


The Count’s men are getting ready to attack Castellor. Ferrando brings in Azucena, who was captured wandering nearby. When she hears di Luna’s name, her reaction arouses suspicion, and Ferrando recognizes her as the murderer of the Count’s brother. Azucena cries out to her son Manrico to rescue her. Di Luna, realizing he now has his enemy in his hands, orders Azcuena burned at the stake.

Inside the fortress, Manrico and Leonora are preparing to be married. She is frightened, but he assures her of his love even in the face of death. When news of Azucena’s capture arrives, Manrico summons his forces and prepares to rescue his mother.

Act IV

Manrico’s rescue has failed; he and Azcuena are being held in di Luna’s castle, awaiting execution. Leonora arrives to try to save him, and prays outside the prison. When di Luna appears, Leonora offers herself to him in return for Manrico’s life. The Count consents, but doesn’t see Leonora secretly take poison.

In their cell, Manrico tried to comfort Azcuena, who has a frightening vision of the death that awaits her. Leonora appears to tell Manrico that he is free. Understanding that she has promised herself to di Luna, Manrico denounces her and refuses to flee. The poison takes effect, and Leonora dies in Manrico’s arms, just as di Luna enters. He orders the immediate execution of Manrico. Azcuena cries out that di Luna has killed his own brother, and her mother’s death has finally been avenged.


Karen Slack

Madison Opera Debut: Sister Rose, Dead Man Walking (2014)
Recently: Billie, Fire Shut Up In My Bones (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis); Serena, Porgy and Bess (Metropolitan Opera, Fort Worth Opera); Tosca, Tosca (Opera Birmingham); Sister Rose, Dead Man Walking (Atlanta Opera, Minnesota Opera, Kentucky Opera, Vancouver Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City); Addie Parker, Charlie Parker’s Yardbird (Arizona Opera)
Upcoming: Soloist, Opera in the Park 2020 (Madison Opera)

Gotcher, Mackenzie
Mackenzie Gotcher

Madison Opera Debut
Recently: Manrico, Il Trovatore (Opera San Jose); Ricardo, A Masked Ball; Roberto, Le Villi (Academy of Vocal Arts); Captain Nolan, Doctor Atomic (Santa Fe Opera); Cavaradossi, Tosca (Wolf Trap Opera)

Daryl Freedman

Madison Opera Debut
Recently: Azucena, Il Trovatore (Opera San Jose); Schwertleite, Die Walkure (Metropolitan Opera, Theatre du Capitole); Amneris, Aida (Opera Idaho); Princess Eboli, Don Carlo; Suzuki, Madame Butterfly (Washington National Opera)
Upcoming: Azucena, Il Trovatore (Portland Opera)

Weston Hurt
Count di Luna

Madison Opera Debut: Germont, La Traviata (2019)
Recently: Rigoletto, Rigoletto (New Orleans Opera); Germont, La Traviata (Seattle Opera, Portland Opera, Opera San Antonio); Sharpless, Madama Butterfly (Seattle Opera); Creon, Medea (Opera Omaha); Scarpia, Tosca (Nashville Opera)
Upcoming: Soloist, Opera in the Park 2020 (Madison Opera); Germont, La Traviata (Lyric Opera of Kansas City); Count di Luna, Il Trovatore (Portland Opera)

Kenneth Kellogg

Madison Opera Debut
Recently: Father, Blue (Glimmerglass Festival); Zenovito & Ulderico, Sigismondo (Opera Rara Festival); Ribbing, A Masked Ball (Opera de Oviedo); Sparafucile, Rigoletto (Sacramento Opera); Father Palmer, Silent Night (Washington National Opera); Ashby, La Fanciulla del West (Maryland Lyric Opera)
Upcoming: Father, Blue (Lyric Opera of Chicago); Osmin, The Abduction from the Seraglio (Minnesota Opera); Il Commendatore, Don Giovanni (Seattle Opera)

John DeMain

Madison Opera Debut: The Magic Flute (1995)
Recently at MO: Fellow Travelers, La Traviata, Rusalka
Recently: Blue, Sweeney Todd (Glimmerglass Festival); Candide (Gran Teatre de Liceu); Porgy and Bess (Seattle Opera, Glimmerglass Festival); Lost in the Stars (Washington National Opera)
Upcoming: She Loves Me, The Marriage of Figaro (Madison Opera)

Fenlon Lamb
Stage Director

Madison Opera Debut: La Traviata (2019)
Recently: Riders of the Purple Sage, Charlie Parker’s Yardbird (Arizona Opera); Don Giovanni, (Pensacola Opera); Hansel & Gretel, Tosca (Palm Beach Opera); Madama Butterfly (Inland Northwest Opera); Carmen (Bar Harbor Music Festival, Annapolis Opera, North Carolina Opera); Scalia/Ginsburg (Opera Delaware); Juliet Letters (Lyric Opera Kansas City)


Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation

Millie & Marshall Osborn

Bert & Diane Adams

Thomas Terry

Martha & Charles Casey

Cyrena & Lee Pondrom