Houston Grand Opera broadcasts continue on Classical 90.5 this Saturday, November 9, at noon with a performance of Il Trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi, set to an Italian libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, based on the play El trovador (1836) by Antonio García Gutiérrez. The performance will be sung in Italian and will run approximately two hours and fifteen minutes. Patrick Summers conducts.

Set in 15th-century northern Spain, Il trovatore tells the story of Manrico, a gypsy troubadour who has fallen in love with the Duchess of Aragon. However, the Count di Luna is also attracted to Aragon, and when he attempts to take her from Manrico, the troubadour takes the count’s life in a duel, not realizing they were brothers, and that his mother Azucena actually stole him from a family of royals many years ago.

This tale of chivalry, honor, valor, and tragic love features one of the great mezzo-soprano roles, the gypsy Azucena, a signature role for American mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick. Called ‘a force of operatic nature’ (LA Times), Zajick is widely considered one of the true dramatic Verdi mezzo-sopranos, typified by the famous and difficult roles of Azucena, Ameris in Aida, and Eboli in Don Carlos. Zajick has sung these roles around the world from Covent Garden to the Metropolitan Opera including the major European houses in Paris, Germany, and Italy.

American soprano Tamara Wilson sings the role of Leonora. Of her appearance in a production of Aida for Opera Australia the critics noted, “From her first note to her last, Tamara Wilson displays a voice of distinctive beauty and apparently effortless power, warm and evenly produced throughout her considerable range.” (The Opera Critic.)

The troubadour Manrico will be sung by Italian tenor Marco Berti. In 2007, he made his international debut at La Scala as Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor and has appeared there in Beatrice di Tenda, La bohème, La Rondine, and Macbeth, among many others. A recipient of the 2005 Giuseppe Verdi Gold Medal, Berti has a wide repertoire. Berti last performed with Houston Grand Opera in 2007 as Radames in Aida, a role he later reprised for Lyric Opera of Chicago, prompting the Chicago Tribune to write, “Berti has the heroic Italianate quality in his bright, penetrating tenor.”

Manrico’s rival, Count di Luna, will be sung by Icelandic baritone, Tómas Tómasson, who was recently seen as Don Pizarro in Houston Grand Opera’s performance of Fidelio. Appearing on the international scene in 1995, he regularly performs with all the major houses in Europe and the UK.

Peixin Chen will sing the role of Ferrando, Captain of the Count’s guard.