The Palace of Aliaferia
In the vestibule of the palace at Aliaferia, home of the heroine
Leonora, the soldier Ferrando recounts the history of the DiLuna
family to the servants and soldiers about him. When Count di
Luna's two sons were small children an elderly witch cast a spell
on one of them. For this crime, she was burned at the stake.
In revenge, her daughter, the witch Azucena, stole the Count's
other son and cast him into a fire. For years now, everyone has
pursued this woman, anxious to bring her to justice. Meanwhile,
the ghost of her mother continues to haunt the region in the form
of an owl. As everyone becomes intent on the story, the midnight
bell tolls and all curse the witch. Outside, Count Di Luna waits
to court the lovely Leonora.
Gardens of the Palace
In the castle garden, Leonora confides to her friend, Inez, her
love for a mysterious knight. She has heard him serenading her
from afar. Once before they had met at a tournament, when she
crowned him victor of the games, many years before. Miraculously
he has returned, although Leonora had thought him lost. Inez
warns this love bodes ill, but Leonora swears her devotion to
her admirer. The two women return to the palace as Count Di Luna
enters, and a hidden troubadour begins his off-stage serenade.
Leonora rushes from the palace directly into Di Luna's arms.
And, when the troubadour, her mysterious lover, Manrico, appears
the Count immediately challenges him to a duel. The two men now
exit, preparing for a sword fight.
An encampment of the gypsies
At their camp in the mountains of Biscay, a large band of gypsies
break into a rousing "Anvil Chorus." Immediately after,
the witch Azucena takes center stage with her aria "Stride
la vampa," exclaiming about the horrifying experience of
seeing her mother wrongly burned alive for the supposed crime
of bewitching Count di Luna's child. She explains to her son
Manrico (the mysterious troubadour) how she had stolen a child
of the Count's, intending to cast him into the flames in revenge.
Mistakenly, however, she threw her own child to the fire instead.
At this moment, the audience may be aware that Manrico is, in
fact, the brother of his rival, Count di Luna. Manrico, however,
remains puzzled and questions Azucena about his true identity.
She is his mother, she assures him.
Manrico sings of his unusual duel with the Count, amazed at his
inability to kill Di Luna when he had him beaten. Some strange
force inspired him to spare the Count's life. Suddenly, a message
arrives from the Prince at the castle of Castellor, asking for
Manrico's aid in combating Di Luna's forces. Leonora, he is told,
thinks him dead and is about to join the holy order of nuns at
the convent in Castellor. Despite Azucena's protests, Manrico
The Count stands ready at the convent to abduct Leonora before
she takes her vows. In "Il balen" he sings of his tormented
heart. As the chorus of nuns explains the ceremony underway,
di Luna attempts to kidnap Leonora. Manrico appears with his
contingent of soldiers. Di Luna's plan is thwarted and the lovers
reunited. The scene ends in an emotional ensemble.
"The Gypsy's Son"
The Camp of Count Di Luna
Outside Castellor, Di Luna's army sings enthusiastically about
the pleasures of gambling. Inside the castle, Manrico plans his
military defense and his marriage to Leonora. A gypsy woman is
found prowling the shadows of the camp and captured.. Taken to
Di Luna, she is identified by Ferrando as the witch who kidnapped
the old Count's son. Di Luna commands her to be burned at the
stake when she cries out to Manrico for deliverance.
The Chapel in the Stronghold of Castellor
In Castellor, Manrico declares his undying devotion to Leonora
in the lyrical "A si ben mio." But the messenger, Ruiz,
runs in with the news that his Azucena has been imprisoned by
Di Luna and hasn't long to live. With this announcement, Manrico
seizes his sword and rallies his forces with the stirring aria,
"Di quella pira!"
The Dungeon Tower of Aliaferia
Far from victorious in his assault on Di Luna's camp, Manrico
has been captured and ordered to be beheaded. Outside the prison
tower, Leonora cries in despair, while monks intone the "Miserere"
for those soon to die. Manrico sings his sad farewell to life.
As the Count enters, Leonora pleads for clemency for Manrico
and offers to give herself in exchange for her lover's safety.
When the Count agrees, Leonora secretly swallows a dose of poison
hidden in her ring.
The Interior of the Tower
In prison, Manrico sings to his mother, Azucena, of their peaceful
mountain home. Together they reminisce in the duet "Ai nostri
monti." Leonora arrives begging him to flee. Hearing of
her bargain with the Count, Manrico is infuriated, then realizes
she has preserved her honor with poison. Azucena deliriously
continues singing sweet memories of home. The Count enters and,
witnessing the death of Leonora realizes he has been deceived.
He orders Manrico's immediate execution and, further, that Azucena
be forced to watch her son's demise. At the window, Azucena turns
triumphant vengeance on Count Di Luna with the cry: "Egli
era tuo fratello! - "He was your brother!"
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