First performed in Naples opera house 19 Jan 1853 it was based on a play by Gutiérrez.
Count di Luna, who was serving the Prince of Aragon and a nobleman in his own right, was courting Leonnora, a lady in waiting to the Princess but he had a rival for her love, a wandering troubadour whom Leonnora appeared to be very fond of. In an attempt to rid himself of this rival he and his guards wait beneath her windows for the troubadour, and to keep his men alert the captain of the guard relates a story about the Count’s family.
The Old Count and his wife had two children, but one was a sickly child and, discovering a gypsy in his room one day, blames her. She was burnt alive, protesting all the time that she has not cursed the child – she begs her own daughter, Azucena, to avenge her death. The daughter does this by snatching the baby from the house and leaving a child’s bones in the ashes of a funeral pyre making them believe that she has burnt their child just as her mother was burned. She leaves with the child and is not seen again but the Count cannot believe his son is dead and before he dies instructs his other son, now Count di Luna to avenge his brother and he has hunted for the gypsy ever since.
Meanwhile Leonora is confiding her love for the troubadour to her confidante, Ines, and tells her that she met him first when he won a tournament only to lose him again when he went to war. He has disguised himself as a troubadour because he has fought for a rival prince to the one that Count di Luna serves so he is technically an outlaw.
Impatiently the Count waits and then just as he hears the troubadour, Leonora rushes into his arms thinking that he is her lover.
The Count challenges the troubador to give his name which is Manrico, and quickly realises that he is an outlaw and under death sentence. Manrico tells him to call his guards but the Count wants his blood and draws his sword whilst Leonora desperately tries to stop the fight, Manrico betters the Count in the fight but spares his life as some instinct stops him.
Manrico is with his “mother”, Azucena, and she is telling him the “truth” about the baby that she took from Count di Luna and Macurio asks her if he is truly her son- she reassures him that he is her son so Mancurio tells her about his fight with the Count and that something stopped him from killing the Count.
A messenger arrives looking for Manrico to tell him that his Prince is calling for him to take command of the defence
of Castellor. He also says that Leonora has vowed to enter the Convent thinking that Manrico is dead.
The Count has also heard this and planning to make her marry him gets there first, trying to seize Leonora however Manrico stands between them and his men surround the Count. She is amazed that he is still alive and rushes to Manrico.
As Leonora and Manrico prepare for their marriage a messenger arrives to inform him of his mother’s plight and he rushes to her aid. But his plan fails and he is imprisoned, Leonora promises to marry the Count if he lets Manrico live (she is planning to poison herself if it should come to that). When the Count agrees to spare Manrico’s life she rushes to Manrico and tells him that he will be freed – he suspects that she has betrayed him but she falls dead in his arms having already taken the poison.
The Count is furious and orders that Manrico is killed and, as his guards kill him Azucena tells him that he has just killed his own brother and so she is avenged for the murder of her mother.
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