Opera Scotland

Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda 2015Dunedin Consort

Read more about the opera Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda

It was a good few years since Monteverdi's little experimental drama had last been heard in Scotland, and this intriguing pair of performances looked most stimulating. Combattimento led us into two short new pieces by promising young composers, both inspired by Monteverdi. Before the interval we also heard a madrigal by a little-known Jacobean composer, the Italianate style of which indicates that he really might have studied with Monteverdi himself. The final item may even be a Scottish premiere of an English rarity, John Blow's Venus and Adonis.

The performance of Combattimento was near ideal, with a small stage band to back the singers, producing a delightful range of sound effects. The brunt of the work is borne by the role of the Narrator, who sings through most of the piece and is required to display a wide range of vocal moods and colours. Nicholas Mulroy's reading was highly dramatic and beautifully paced. The titular characters have less to do, but gave a highly moving contribution.

The two new pieces were prize winners in the 2015 NCEM Young Composers Award. The young composers were invited to create new settings of a short dramatic scene from one of Monteverdi's greatest works, Orfeo or Combattimento. The latter inspired Why are you in such a hurry? by John Goldie-Scot (b1989), the former Fractos Corde by Joshua Urben (b1998). Both were effective narratives, showing a real aptitude for word-painting and orchestration.

The fourth item, the madrigal 'Old Poets that in Cupid's hand put weapons first' by Walter Porter (c1587-1659) was an equally fascinating work that turned out to be disappointingly brief. This piece of Jacobean treasure provided an effective link to the more substantial opera after the interval. In a performance of Blow's pioneering work of this quality it does seem unfair that Purcell's Dido, great as it is, should steal the limelight so much from its contemporaries.

A final word of advocacy for the venue. The Central Hall, Tollcross, was used regularly a few years ago for concerts by youth orchestras at Festival time. It seems to have rather slipped off the radar as a classical venue, but it is quite superb - a clear, warm acoustic and spacious accommodation for the audience.

Performance Cast

Testo the Narrator

Nicholas Mulroy

Tancredi a Christian knight

David Lee

Clorinda a Saracen warrior maiden

Mhairi Lawson

Performance DatesCombattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda 2015

Map List

Mackintosh Church | Glasgow

2 Oct, 19.30

Central Hall, Tollcross | Edinburgh

3 Oct, 15.00

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