Il Trovatore

May 22 2015 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩    Weighty drama

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh: Thurs 21, Sun 24, Weds 27, Sat 30 May 2015

Darkness and light are so intertwined, it is impossible to have one without the other. Scottish Opera’s production of Verdi’s Il Trovatore, however, shows that love, hope and light can burn even stronger when through the darker elements of humanity.

A gypsy woman is burned at the stake for witchcraft following the death of Count di Luna’s infant son. The woman’s daughter, Azucena, is set to avenge her mother by killing the son. But in her frenzied hysteria she makes a terrible mistake.

Claire Rutter and chorus members. Photo KK Dundas

Claire Rutter and chorus members. Photo KK Dundas

Years later we see how the story unfolds through a love triangle between di Luna’s second son, also named the Count, Azucena’s son Manrico and the beautiful Leonora.

Director Martin Lloyd-Evans’ Il Trovatore, based on a design concept for Scottish Opera’s 1992 production, is cast in shadow, living in the shade of the darker side of humanity. Beginning with an act of ignorant fear and superstition, it appears that everyone tainted by the act is set to live and die in damnation with everything they touch turned to ruin.

Is this in fact the work of witchcraft or is it a statement on the reflection on the human condition, itself destined to damnation?

The backdrop to this incarnation of Verdi’s opera is simple, made effective by the dramatic shadow interplay and expressive lighting designed by Robert B Dickson.

shadows cast

The conflicts of the piece are intensified by shadows cast on the vast columns behind. Azucena’s horror, guilt and shame of her infanticide intensified by the depiction of her writhing on the floor bathed in red.

It is only through images of purity as Leonora gives her life to God that Dickson takes the production out of the shadows. It’s a poignant interlude that precedes a stirring battle of suitors before the opera’s inevitable descent back to the shadows.

Roland Wood and Claire Rutter. Photo: KK Dundas

Roland Wood and Claire Rutter. Photo: KK Dundas

The cast are redoubtable. Unsurprisingly shining the most in their depictions of love. Claire Rutter as Leonora delivers two outstanding moments, displaying a stunning display of love for Manrico that sounds as though it were sung from the soul. Anne Mason too delivers Azucena’s gut-wrenching anguish she shows her love for her lost son.

Roland Wood and Gwyn Hughes Jones spar nicely as the Count and Manrico respectively. Wood’s portrayal of the Count almost makes his character too hard to hate, until of course rage and jealousy prevail. Hughes Jones soars through his solos with a heroic bravado that is not always present in his arrogant rival.

At times some of the chorus performances feel over-choreographed where perhaps there could be a further element of turmoil in the movement. But then again perhaps the control exists to highlight the contrast between the hired soldier and the man who fights for freedom and justice in the civil war that runs alongside the main story.

The production has weight, it has gravity and it has drama. And yet, it leaves a feeling that it could perhaps push the boundaries and go a little further – it could be that touch deeper and darker.

Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes (including interval)
Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT
Thursday 21, Sunday 24, Wednesday 27, Saturday 30 May 2015
Evenings (not Sun 24): 7.15pm, matinee Sunday 24: 4pm.
Free events
Il trovatore Unwrapped: Fri 22 May 6pm
Touch Tour: Sun 24 May 2.45pm
Pre-show talk: Sat 30 May 6pm
Details and tickets from:
Scottish Opera website:


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