The Clorinde created in 1701 by Antoine Danchet in his libretto for Campra’s opera Tancrede, is a rhapsodic but intense character, finding in herself an insoluble conflict between honour and feelings, inner code and real life. The Muslim princess is the principal analyst and the designated victim of her own dilemma, as active warrior fighting against the crusaders, as sensible lover of her main enemy Tancrede.
The Enchanted Forest, where she is lost during the middle part of the pièce, is a magic place where thoughts, emotions and inner tensions emerge, with plausible psychological intuitions. The Forest is animated by plants and animals conveying terror and delusion. It seems to be like a metamorphic reality, fitting to the fear and doubts of people penetrating it. The direct reference of Danchet is the Selva di Saron episode, from Gerusalemme liberata by Torquato Tasso, where the magic Forest is a grey area. Once inside, ambitions and controls fall down and the discomfort of people is unveiled without being solved.
In the elaboration of Danchet, Clorinde enters the forest searching for Tancrede, wanting to save him from the powerful magician Ismenor. Nonetheless, she finds herself even more caught in her stressful duel between ideology and emotivity. The forest is the place of the obsessive return of her problem, mirroring it endlessly. Her inability to find a solution becomes unsustainable.
As in the Selva of the Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto, different warriors are attracted into the enchanted Forest from their own obsessions and become lost. They forget their goals and follow their fantasies, their desires and their memories. Most of their dreams involve duels and battles, heroic enterprises and proofs of courage.
Clorinde is a warrior with noble ideals and a deep sense of honour, but she is also a woman, who discovers how impossible is to love her enemy, how deep is her rivalry to Tancrede.
The forest is a vaste web, it catches her mind and pushes her to a final duel with the man she is in love with. She offers herself as the needed victim while fighting as a killer. The announced catastrophe seems to be the only solution, a liberation from the overexertion of her feelings.
The original baroque French language of Danchet shows Clorinda in her unceasing metamorphosis: a continuous transformation from passionate lover to determined warrior. It’s a French language full of shadows and lights, obscurities and clarifications, that blends baroque dreams with the pressure of the present. It enhances the daily life of the protagonist, seen as prisoner of her enemy Tancrede at first; then as his rescuer in the Enchanted forest; and finally, as loser of their fatal duel.
Danchet’s Clorinde appears and speaks like a Sybil, someone remembering the past and envisaging the future at the same time, a character coming from Tasso’s poem and evolving towards the French symbolism.
The music performs the whispers and laments of the Enchanted Forest, following the baroque tradition of instrumental open-air concrete-sound descriptions, as in different compositions by Francesco Geminiani and Clement Jannequin. The sound-scene of the ritualised battle, is depicted with references to Heinrich Biber, Annibale Padovano and Samuel Scheidt.
The brass ensemble and metal-percussion ensemble represent, with their physical presence too, the animated battlefield and the mysterious enchanted Forest, where the hieratic, idealist dreamer Clorinda appears, like a ghost of herself.