Verdi’s glorious music, including the well-known Anvil Chorus, partnered with multiple plot twists, an unfolding story of vengeance, a love triangle and a tragic end – are the irresistible ingredients of this magnificent opera.
Il Trovatore has been described as a work that rests on the talent of the four leads and with Jennifer Rowley as the lovelorn Leonora, James Clayton as the proud Count di Luna, Rosario La Spina as the lover Manrico and Elizabeth Campbell as the vengeful Azucena, it was a wonderful performance, with all of them vocally strong and plausible in character.
La Spina in particular performed the tenor part with pathos and depth and Clayton – a West Australia Opera veteran – was excellently cast and convincing as the jilted Count.
Some of the acting was overdone at times, particularly by the extras, but occasionally by Rowley in her portrayal of Leonora’s despair, which was overly melodramatic in moments.
The musical energy propelled the plot forward from the moment the curtain rose. The opening and closing scenes were both exceptional, with David Parkin as the priest Ferrando opening, surrounded by a strong male chorus, who highlighted the political background and the start of the Count’s story. Although the energy waned slightly towards the end of the first half, things quickly picked up pace again after the interval as the audience was carried along towards the shocking finale.
The overarching theme of vengeance was woven throughout, with Campbell playing what Verdi considered as the principle role; Azucena the gypsy who must fulfill her mother’s dying wish for revenge. Campbell was convincing as she revealed her wretched story and in her final success in wreaking a terrible vengeance. Her triumphant cackling was the last sound to be heard as the curtain closed, and when it rose again, Campbell proved to be the audience favourite on the night, with loudest applause reserved for her.
The staging was clever in its fluidity and worked well in its portrayal of the original context, with the exception of the final prison scene, which looked oddly modern.
All in all, glorious music performed well made for a wonderful evening of opera.
West Australian Opera presents
Director Elke Neidhardt
Venue: His Majesty’s Theatre, 825 Hay Street Perth
Dates: 30 October & 1, 4, 6, & 8 November, 2014