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Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda

by Claudio Montiverdi

Baroque Opera at the Williams Andrews Clark Memorial Library 

in collaboration with the UCLA Center for 17th and 18th-Century Studies

May 2012


At the beginning of her tenure as Director of the Clark and the Center, Barbara Fuchs announced her plans to bring more performing arts to the Clark. As part of this initiative, the Clark hosted performances of Monteverdi’s operatic scena, Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda on May 19 and 20, 2012. 


This special theatrical staging was presented by the UCLA Herb Albert School of Music, UCLA Department of Theater, and the Clark and the Center. Performers were drawn from the UCLA Early Music Ensemble and Opera UCLA. Stephen Stubbs conducted the program, and the staging was directed by Alan Patrick Kenny.


Monteverdi’s dramatic cantata, Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, is set to the text of Torquato Tasso’s epic poem, La Gerusalemme liberate. The poem recounts mythologized stories of the first crusade. One tale is the tragic love story of Clorinda and Tancredi. Clorinda, a warrior maiden, joins the Muslim defense of besieged Jerusalem. Christian knight Tancredi falls in love with Clorinda, but during a night battle, he slays her before he recognizes her true identity. As she dies she forgives him and accepts Christian baptism. 


Combattimento was composed as entertainment for an aristocratic wedding in 1624. Monteverdi’s introductory text directs both the theatrical action and the musical performance in specific detail.


Performances of Combattimento played to full houses in the Clark’s imaginatively transformed drawing room. Likely for the first time ever inside the Clark, audiences witnessed sword fighting and even a “horse” amidst the dynamic staging of the operatic piece. Players and spectators alike wore Venetian-inspired masks provided by Alan Patrick Kenny, who sought to recreate an authentic Venetian Carnival atmosphere.

Photos by Mikki Schaffner

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