Poisonings, infanticide, burnings at the stake: the hallmarks of a classic opera. Il trovatore is one of the most beloved in the canon, in fact, despite the lurid subject matter and relative lack of sophistication. Musically, it was a step backward in Giuseppe Verdi’s development as a composer, unsubtle and rigidly formalistic in comparison to Rigoletto and La traviata. The plot is hopelessly antiquated, with Romani curses, duels, and the titular medieval troubadour. But opera fans love it, even if critics do not and did not from the start. It’s become a staple, a common season opener for opera companies and something every singer trains to perform. So it’s rather remarkable that it hasn’t come to the Kennedy Center in 18 years. The fall performance will be a large ensemble showcase starring soprano Latonia Moore, who had an impressive Washington National Opera debut in the title role for 2019’s Tosca, as well as tenor Gwyn Hughes Jones, mezzo Raehann Bryce-Davis, and Don Giovanni regular Christopher Maltman. For the opera-shy, it can be reassuring that the art form doesn’t have to be high-minded, and Il trovatore is living proof. Washington National Opera’s Il trovatore runs Oct. 22 through Nov. 7 at the Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org/wno. $45–$300.
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