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Il Trovatore in Historical Context

Yonghoon Lee as Manrico in Great Performances at the Met: Il Trovatore

Yonghoon Lee as Manrico in Great Performances at the Met: Il Trovatore (2016). Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera.

Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore (The Troubadour) was the third opera presented at the Metropolitan Opera House on October 26 in 1883, the year the New York City opera house was founded. Il Trovatore had originally premiered in Rome thirty years earlier on January 19, 1853. Verdi based the opera on the most successful play of Spanish playwright Antonio García Gutiérrez, El trovador (1836).

Verdi (Oct. 10, 1813 – Jan. 27, 1901) set the story at the end of a real civil war in Spain’s kingdom of Aragon in northeastern Spain, in the early 1400s, though the production GP at the Met: Il Trovatore (2016) takes place during the Peninsular War (1808–1814), when Spain and its allies were fighting Napoleon’s forces. Soprano Anna Netrebko makes her Met role debut in this production.

GP at the Met: Il Trovatore premieres January 22, 2016 at 9 pm with repeat on January 24 at noon (check local schedule).

To celebrate the 10th season of GP at the Met, Great Performances presents short highlights of what was happening in the world the year of each opera’s world premiere, and in the year of the Met Opera premiere.

Giuseppe Verdi

Giuseppe Verdi, by Giovanni Boldini, 1866.

1853: Il Trovatore’s World Premiere

Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Il Trovatore premieres in Rome on January 19.

Verdi’s La Traviata premieres in Venice on March 6.

In July, American Commodore Matthew Perry leads four ships into the harbor at Tokyo Bay, hoping to re-establish trade with Japan for the first time in over 200 years.

The Gadsen Purchase, or Treaty, between the U.S. and Mexico allows the U.S. to acquire nearly 30,000 square miles, which become part of Arizona and New Mexico.

1883: Il Trovatore’s Metropolitan Opera Premiere

In April, Leo Delibes’ opera Lakmé premieres in Paris.

In May, Buffalo Bill Cody puts on his first Wild West Show.

On May 24, the Brooklyn Bridge is opened by President Arthur and New York Governor Cleveland. Six days later on May 30, a rumor that the bridge will collapse causes a stampede, killing 12 people.

On June 2,  Chicago’s El transportation network opens.

On Aug 27, a volcano called Krakatoa, west of Java, explodes and kills approximately 40,000 people. A little over a day later, seismic sea waves create a rise in English Channel.

On October 4, The Orient Express makes its first run, linking Turkey to Europe by railway.

On October 26, Il Trovatore premieres at the Met Opera in New York City.

On November 3, four African-Americans are killed in race riots in Danville, Virginia.

On November 18 American and Canadian railroads create the first time zones. The U.S. Congress doesn’t officially adopt the railway time zones until 1918. [Time zones is why you must check local listings to see programs like Great Performances at the Met!]

On December 2, Brahms’ 3rd Symphony in F premieres.

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