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André Campra

Tancrède is a 1702 tragédie en musique (a French opera in the lyric tragedy tradition) in a prologue and five acts by composer André Campra and librettist Antoine Danchet, based on Gerusalemme liberata by Torquato Tasso.

The opera contains 23 dances in addition to the singing. It is famous for having the alleged first contralto role in French opera. (However, in modern terms it is considered more of a mezzo-soprano range.) The role was written for Julie d'Aubigny, known as 'La Maupin', the most colorful singer of this era.[1] It's also notable for the unusual choice of three low-lying voices for the main male parts.

Performance history

Tancrède was first performed on 7 November 1702 by the Académie Royale de Musique at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in Paris under the direction of Marin Marais. It was successful and remained in the repertoire until the 1760s.


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 7 November 1702[2]
(Conductor: Marin Marais)
A sage enchanter/A warrior haute-contre Jacques Cochereau
Peace soprano Mlle Clément L.
Followers of Peace sopranos Mlles Clément P. and Loignon
Tancrède, a crusader bass-baritone Gabriel-Vincent Thévenard
Argante, Saracen leader bass-baritone Charles Hardouin
Clorinde, Saracen princess contralto[1] Julie d'Aubigny (La Maupin)
Herminie, daughter of the king of Antioch soprano Marie-Louise Desmatins
Ismenor, Saracen magician bass-baritone Jean Dun "père"
Female warriors sopranos Mlles Dupeyré, Lallemand and Loignon
A sylvan haute-contre Jean Boutelou
Two dryads sopranos Mlles Loignon and Bataille
A nymph soprano Mlle Dupeyré
Vengeance tenor (travesti) Claude Desvoyes


  1. ^ a b The part of Clorinde is notated in the soprano clef (original score, p. 71), but, although it never descends below d′, tradition has it that it was the first major bas-dessus (contralto) role in the French opera history (Sadie, Julie Anne, Maupin, in Sadie, Stanley (ed), op. cit., III, p. 274).
  2. ^ According to Le magazine de l'opéra baroque Archived 2014-03-01 at the Wayback Machine.
  • Original printed score: Tancrede , tragedie, mise en musique par Monsieur Campra. Représentée pour la premiere fois par l'Academie royale de musique le septiéme jour de novembre 1702, Paris, Ballard, 1702 (accessible for free online at Gallica - B.N.F.)
  • Anthony, James R (1992), 'Tancrède' in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie (London) ISBN 0-333-73432-7
  • Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "Tancrède, 7 November 1702". L'Almanacco di Gherardo Casaglia (in Italian).
  • Le magazine de l'opéra baroque, page: Tancrède
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