Giuseppe Verdi: Il trovatore

Verdi Edition

Edited by David Lawton (1992)

Two-volume set: score pp. LXXV, 460 + critical commentary | NR 136180
Piano vocal score | NR 136183
Study score (paperback edition) | NR 141463
Piano vocal score (Practical Series – with abridged introduction and no critical notes) | NR 141355

The main source for this critical edition is the autograph score. As many know Verdi’s usual working method was to begin with a general sketch of the score which comprised the vocal lines, the bass line and the first measures of the instrumental parts in full orchestration. This score, which reflects the first state of the opera, is generally referred to as the skeleton score. At a later moment, once the opera’s physiognomy had been defined, Verdi proceeded to orchestrate it, adding refinements and changes even during rehearsal.

Ricordi had the autograph score copied and then sent it back to Verdi so he could use it at the rehearsals for the premiere in Rome, at the Teatro Apollo on January 19, 1853. Verdi made several changes to vocal parts and orchestration during those rehearsals. Ricordi, on the basis of his copy, started preparing the vocal score of separate numbers a few months before the Roman premiere, and collected them in a complete printed edition in August that year. All later editions were derived from that print as well as from the score published in 1888, but they do not register the changes Verdi made to the autograph during the rehearsals in Rome.

The autograph score of Il trovatore in fact presents a series of amendments Verdi added on later occasions, and allows the detailed study of the various phases of his creative process, providing legitimate explanations of all the changes reported in the critical edition.

When written with ink of a different colour, many of these changes could be identified in the autograph. Some modifications, written with light brown ink, were probably introduced while the composer was correcting the score; some regard details, such as simply the addition of caution accidentals; others are of considerable musical interest, such as the substitution of notes in the flute part in the Terzetto Scene (N.10), a substitution Verdi made to avoid some problems in voice leading. Still another and more surprising case consists in the variation of the Finale Ultimo (N.14), in measure 222: Verdi changed the harmony of the strings from G major to E minor, a highly effective revision that is now published for the first time.

The corrections in dark blue ink probably reflect last minute revisions during rehearsals, and apply almost exclusively to the vocal parts, such as the change in declamation of the text in Manrico’s part in N.12 (Scena and Aria Leonora) or the changes of the rhythm in N. 13 (Scena e Duetto).

Appendix contains an arrangement for an ensemble of wind instruments of the organ part contained in the tempo di mezzo of Manrico’s Aria (No. 11). The arrangement – even if not by Verdi himself – is bound to the third volume of the autograph score, under the title «Armonia nel Trovatore». It thus stands as an authoritative variant offered to those theatres that do not have an organ at their disposal for the performance of this piece.

To sum up, the critical edition reflects Verdi’s final decisions, and may therefore be considered entirely loyal to the composer’s most meditated intentions.

The work is now also available for hire with reduced orchestration by Enrico Minaglia, as part of the OperaLite series (NR 142487).