Opera Scotland

Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda Il Combattimento; The Fight between Tancred and Clorinda

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Claudio Monteverdi (born Cremona, 15 May 1567; died Venice, 29 November 1643)




Adapted from epic poems Gerusalemme liberata (1575) and Gerusalemme conquistata by Torquato Tasso (1544-1595).



First performance: Venice (Palazzo Mocenigo), 1624.

First performance in UK: To be confirmed.

First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Freemasons' Hall), 29 August 1969.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.



Il combattimento was published as part of Monteverdi's Eighth Book of Madrigals of Love and War, along with Il ballo delle Ingrate. While it hardly fits our modern concept of the madrigal, nor is it really an opera as we know it. For the most part it is a narrative describing the combat between the two lovers, but even they only speak a few lines - the vast bulk of the text is recited by the narrator. The closest description in conventional terms would be to call it a dramatic cantata which can be acted out on stage. It is possible that the work may have been staged in the form of a marionette play. Even in concert, the unusual result of the illustration of events by the instruments is a fascinating achievemnet.



Testo, the Narrator or Witness (tenor)

Tancredi, a Christian knight (bass)

Clorinda, a Saracen warrior maiden (soprano)


Plot Summary

The fight forms a short episode in Tasso's epic poem of the First Crusade. Tancred is a leading knight on the Christian side, and Clorinda is a warrior maiden fighting for the Saracens. In an earlier phase of the conflict, Tancred is so impressed by Clorinda's prowess in battle that he falls desperately in love with her. The drama of the cantata involves a later episode. Clorinda, at night, and disguised in man's armour, has been sabotaging the Christian siege engines. On her way back to her own lines she is challenged by Tancred and agrees to single combat. Their struggle continues all night, but at last Clorinda is mortally wounded. As she lies dying she begs for baptism, and when Tancred brings water he at last discovers her identity. He is appalled at this, but manages to complete the baptism before she dies at peace.

The Cast

 a Saracen warrior maiden
Mime 1
Mime 2
 a Christian knight
 the Narrator

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