Friday, April 06, 2007


Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda by Monteverdi is something you hear about more than you hear. It's from Book VIII of Monteverdi's Madrigali, but it is hardly what you would call a madrigal. It is a small play set in the stile rappresentativo of the camarata's invention. Tancredi dressed in armor meets his beloved Clorinda, dressed in Saracen armor, and proceeds to kill her. The words are from Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata, the great epic poem from Monteverdi's youth.

Is there anything to this new Baroque style? Can a singer really be expected to bring the same emotion into a narrative that would be achieved by a great actor?

If that singer is Rolando Villazon, the answer is yes. If we are searching for a role model for expression, we need look no further than Rolando. His performance of this piece verges on the miraculous.

I admit, I have often been puzzled by the attraction of Monteverdi. No more. The wonderful ornaments need an enthusiastic interpreter to come alive. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Of course, you know that Torquato Tasso was such a famous poet that Donizetti wrote a 3-act opera about him (libretto by Jacopo Ferretti), although it's sadly one of those 50-plus works of his that are almost never performed. Bongiovanni recorded it in 1985 with the incomparable Simone Alaimo in the title role. The piece contains one of the few male "mad" scenes in all of opera, a great trivia question-and-answer.