Directly lifted from Tasso’s crusader epic Jerusalem liberated, Monteverdi’s Combattimento depicts a vicious duel that culminates in a crusader mortally wounding his Saracen lover, whom he has mistaken for a man. Narration dominates the drama but it’s far from dispassionate- at times the vocal writing and brutal instrumental gestures border on the lurid. This exquisite experiment from the days of opera’s infancy, was theatrically staged for a private audience of intellectual nobles in 1624.
Nearly 400 years on, young composer Lembit Beecher’s companion piece, which relishes the contemporary sonic possibilities of the period instruments, is a feast for the ears but much more than a curiosity. With Hannah Moscovitch, a playwright deeply knowledgeable about Canada’s role in the Afghan war, he has created a quietly devastating mini-opera. The clarity and evocativeness of his word setting is a match for the old master and, by focusing on the inner secrets of a damaged female war veteran, he is able to deal with issues about gender and trauma that were way outside the ken of the ( frankly sado-erotic) original.
MONTEVERDIIl combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda LEMBIT BEECHERI Have No Stories to Tell You
Bethany Hill, soprano Robert Macfarlane, tenor Samuel Dundas, baritone Ludovico’s Band and Chorus
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Generously supported by Leading Patron Ulrike Klein AO.