The romantic story set in 15th-century Spain about the troubadour Manrico and the Gypsy Azucena, replete with heroism, machinations, love, hatred and revenge, is rather intricate and its plot improbable to say the least. The celebrated tenor Leo Slezak, a favourite guest of the New German Theatre (today’s State Opera) and a superlative performer of Manrico, remarked: “I have sung the Troubadour at least a hundred times, and I still haven’t the slightest inkling as to what this opera is actually about!” Nevertheless, Giuseppe Verdi superbly negotiated all the unlikely plot twists and duly created one of his most forcible works. The melodies in Il trovatore are lavishly expressive and the celebrated Anvil Chorus “Vedi le fosche notturne” from Act 2 has experienced numerous paraphrases, including Glen Miller’s jazz arrangement. The premiere on 19 January 1853 at the Teatro Apollo in Rome was a triumph and opera stages were soon scrambling to stage the work. Alongside La traviata and Rigoletto, Il trovatore is the apex of Verdi’s creation, and the three operas are still record-breakers when it comes to the number of performances and visitors at opera houses around the world.