Based on twelve strophes from Torquata Tasso's epic cycle of 1575, Monteverdi's work, Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, tells of Tancred, a Christian knight on a crusade to the Holy Land, who fights a masked infidel in single combat outside the gates of Jerusalem. When the defeated enemy is finally unmasked, Tancred discovers he has unwittingly killed the woman he loves, Clorinda, a Saracen warrior maiden. Director François Caillat has adapted Monteverdi's work and set the action of his film at night, on board the vessel bringing Tancred and his crew back to Europe. In his fevered state, Tancred relives the painful duel. Real settings are skillfully intermingled with video images, so that the result is not a traditional opera film. Its originality also comes from the confrontation of different vocal registers, the voices speaking or singing in diverse languages.
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