Part One — The Duel
Scene one — A vestibule in the Aliaferia Palace
Ferrando cautions the retainers of the Count di Luna not to fall asleep, as the love-smitten di Luna is known to visit Leonora's window late at night. To keep their minds alert, he tells the story of Garzia, younger brother to the count. One fearful night nearly 20 years ago, the baby's nurse discovered a gypsy at his crib. Though she claimed to have come to tell the little boy's future, it was feared she cursed him, as Garzia quickly fell ill. The gypsy was consequently hunted down and burned at the stake.
The boy vanished immediately afterwards, and when a small charred skeleton was found in the ashes, it was feared the gypsy's daughter had wrought vengeance. Though Garzia was never seen again, the old count had some foreboding that his younger son was still alive. Before dying of grief, he urged his other boy to keep looking for his brother and for the gypsy's daughter, from which he was to extract revenge.
It has been some time, but Ferrando would never forget a face. Her mother's ghost was known to haunt those responsible for her murder, adopting the guise of a wild animal or vampire, at times frightening them to death. A chill runs through each man as they curse the old gypsy's memory.
Scene two — The palace gardens outside Leonora's room
Though her liege has requested her presence, Leonora tarries, hoping the mysterious troubadour will appear. She first laid eyes upon him at a tournament some time ago when she placed the victor's wreath upon his head. He has since visited her, serenading outside her window. Ines urges caution, but Leonora is hopelessly in love. The ladies retreat inside.
The Count di Luna lurks in the gardens, planning to declare his passion for Leonora that very evening. He hesitates when Manrico's voice is heard singing a love song. Leonora returns, and in the darkness, mistakes the count for the troubadour. Di Luna recognizes his rival as Manrico, a follower of the rebellious Count Urgel, and the two men square off as a duel is set for daybreak.
Part Two — The Gypsy
Scene one — A hovel in the Biscay mountains
As day breaks, the gypsies return to work, hammering the anvils as part of their metalworking trade. Azucena is once again consumed by the horrific burning of her mother as she retells the dreadful tale. She is surprised Manrico has never heard the whole story and elaborates further. As her mother was dying, she cried out “Avenge me!” and Azucena did exactly that. She stole the old Count's baby and brought him to the dying embers along with her own infant son (who, in gypsy fashion, would never leave her side). Obsessed by a vision of her mother's call for vengeance, she reached out and threw the child in the fire. Returning to her senses, Azucena realized to her great horror that she had grabbed the wrong boy!
If his mother accidentally killed her own son, Manrico asks, then who is he? Realizing she has said too much, Azucena quickly covers her tracks. Of course she is his devoted mother, recalling how she has nursed him back to health after he sustained serious injuries in Battle of Pelilla. Manrico relives the mêlée, during which the count's forces nearly killed him, even though after the duel, with di Luna at his mercy, the troubadour could not deliver the fatal blow. An inexplicable power had held him back.
A messenger brings news that Urgel's forces have captured Castellor. Manrico also learns Leonora, believing him dead, intends to take the veil at the Cloister of the Holy Cross. He rushes off to stop her.
Scene two — A cloister near Castellor
The count and his men lie in wait, intending to abduct Leonora before she can take her holy orders. As they advance upon the cloister, Manrico and his followers intercept, and disarm di Luna's forces. Manrico spirits Leonora away.
Part Three — The Gypsy's Son
Scene one — Count di Luna's encampment near Castellor
Ferrando and the count's militia plan their siege of the nearby fortress. To di Luna, Ferrando reports news of a gypsy woman who has been captured nearby. When Azucena is brought in for interrogation, the old soldier recognizes her as the gypsy's daughter. In her agitated state, Azucena lets it slip that Manrico is her son, and di Luna realizes he has a valuable hostage.
Scene two — A chapel inside Castellor
Manrico and Leonora stand before the altar as war is about to rage outside. Before they can take their nuptials, Ruiz burst in with news of Azucena's capture and imminent execution. Leaving Leonora's side, Manrico hurries to save his mother.
Part Four — The Torture
Scene one — The Aliaferia Palace
Ruiz guides Leonora to the place where Manrico is being held prisoner. As monks chant a mass for the dead, Leonora contemplates her options. Her ring is filled with poison — she plans to offer her hand to di Luna in exchange for Manrico's freedom, and then take the deadly draught. Still in love, the count falls for the ruse, and Leonora secretly empties the vessel.
Scene two — A grim prison
Weary from the stress of recent events, Azucena dwells on her upcoming death, again reliving her mother's agony within her addled mind. Manrico tries to comfort her and suggests she rest. Leonora enters the cell and reveals her bargain with the count. Manrico refuses to go without her, but the poison takes effect sooner than she expected, and Leonora dies at his feet. Di Luna enters, and seeing her betrayal, orders Manrico's swift execution. Azucena wakes and is dragged to the window to witness the bloody beheading. Just as the deed is done, the gypsy blurts out that Manrico was the count's brother — her mother has been avenged.
Courtesy of The Minnesota Opera