Verdi: Le trouvère, WP of the new critical edition

Verdi: Le trouvère, WP of the new critical edition

The world premiere of the new critical edition of Giuseppe Verdi’s Le trouvère (a French adaptation of Il trovatore) comes to the 18th edition of Festival Verdi (September 29 – October 21).  The Orchestra and Choir of Bologna’s Teatro Comunale will be conducted by Roberto Abbado. The performance, scenery and lights are under the direction of Robert Wilson.

The critical edition, curated by David Lawton, is based on French sources that date back to the work’s first performance at the Paris Opéra in 1857. While Verdi’s signed manuscript has not survived, the Bibliothèque de l’Opéra and other archives do house manuscript copies, reductions for sung parts and piano, parts for prompters, and vocal parts, through which the score was scrupulously reconstructed to reflect Verdi’s intentions.

By the time Le trouvère was composed, Verdi had thorough knowledge of the workings of French theater. He had made his debut at the Paris Opéra nearly ten years earlier with Jérusalem, a sophisticated adaptation of I lombardi alla prima crociata. In 1855 he composed Les Vêpres siciliennes, also for the Paris Opéra. Il trovatore, set in Spain against the backdrop of civil unrest, was especially suited to the demands of the Opéra, which required spectacular performances with plenty of choreography. Verdi expanded the score with a long four-part dance in the third act, where, following the opening chorus, the gypsies entertain the soldiers. He also rewrote the ending, where he introduced a reprise of his celebrated “Miserere”, which is heard at the start of the fourth act.  There were numerous modifications of melodic details, as well as indications regarding expressiveness, dynamism and tempo.  Verdi was able to adapt the work to fit the tastes and customs of French theater, with results that were not merely fascinating, but which displayed extraordinary musical and dramatic efficacy.  

Following the September 29 premiere at historical Teatro Farnese, repeat performances of Le trouvère are slated for October 4, 7, 12, 14 and 20.

David Lawton’s new critical edition will be published in The Works of Giuseppe Verdi / Le Opere di Giuseppe Verdi (Ricordi and the University of Chicago Press). 

Photo: Lucie Jansch