Synopsis for Il Trovatore
The retainers of Count di Luna listen to their captain Ferrando tell how the Count’s father once burned an old Romani woman at the stake for witchcraft. In revenge, the Romani's daughter stole the infant brother of the present Count and burned the child to death. As the clock strikes midnight, Ferrando finishes his chilling tale.
In the palace garden, Leonora, the queen’s lady-in-waiting, confides to her companion, Inez, how she has fallen in love with an unknown troubadour-knight who has been serenading her. Inez has misgivings about the stranger, but Leonora refuses to forget him. After the two women enter the palace, Count di Luna appears. He too is in love with Leonora and plans to marry her. His thoughts are interrupted by the strains of a serenade as the troubadour enters. Leonora comes out of the palace and in the darkness mistakes the Count for her beloved. After accusing Leonora of infidelity, Manrico, leader of the rebel forces under the Prince of Biscay, reveals himself as the troubador and challenges the Count to a duel.
Azucena, the dead Romani woman's daughter, is sitting by a fire at a Roma camp in the mountains. As the day breaks, the Roma take up their usual tasks, hammering on their anvils and working at their handicrafts. In a trance, Azucena relives the events of her mother’s death on the pyre and is haunted by her final cry for vengeance. The Roma leave to sell their wares in the neighboring villages. When they are left alone, Manrico asks Azucena to elaborate on the story she has just told. In near delirium, she tells him of the abduction of the Count’s child and the burning—not of di Luna’s brother, but of her own son. Manrico, who has always believed Azucena to be his mother, is puzzled by what he has heard. After regaining her senses, Azucena convinces him that he is indeed her son and instills in him the need to kill his enemy the Count. A messenger arrives and informs Manrico that Leonora, believing him killed in battle, is about to take the veil at a nearby convent. Despite Azucena’s protests, he rushes off to stop her from renouncing the world.
In the convent’s cloister, di Luna and his attendants are planning Leonora’s abduction. She enters with a group of her friends. Manrico appears with his followers, who fight off the Count’s retainers, allowing the troubadour to escape with Leonora.
The Count is laying siege to the enemy fortress, Castellor. A Romani woman is brought into the camp and Ferrando recognizes her as the murderess of di Luna’s brother. In despair, she utters Manrico’s name, doubling the Count’s fury and his delight at her capture.
Inside the fortress, Manrico and Leonora are about to be married. Ruiz, Manrico’s friend, arrives with the news that Azucena has been captured and is to be burned at the stake. Leonora tries to stop him, but Manrico hurries off to save Azucena.
Both Manrico and Azucena have been imprisoned. Leonora has come to the prison tower, prepared to die near her beloved. When the Count appears, Leonora offers herself to him in exchange for Manrico’s life. Di Luna accepts the proposal joyously, and as he is giving orders to his guards Leonora swallows poison from her ring, determined that the Count’s sole reward will be her lifeless body.
Inside the prison, Azucena is tormented by the memory of her mother’s death. Manrico tries to comfort her by reminding her of their peaceful days in the mountains of Biscay. Leonora enters and tells Manrico that he is free, but he suspects the price of his freedom and curses her. As the Count appears, he overhears Leonora tell Manrico in her dying breath that she has preferred death to life without him. Enraged, the Count sends Manrico to the block. Azucena awakens to Manrico’s cries and di Luna forces her to witness the execution. Azucena now reveals to the Count that Manrico was his brother.