In Act 1, scene 2, a prompt note ('il entre') written above the violin part directs the infidel magician Ismenor to delay his entrance until bar 14 of a 19-bar introduction.
At the first sound of trumpets (a brief, four-bar interlude), she exclaims: |But this resounding clamour announces the victor, let us hasten to enlighten my troubled heart'.(41) Although the scene rubrics printed in the score suggest that Tancrede and his soldiers enter to the sound of the martial music that follows, a prompt note delays the disclosure of the battle's outcome until |Tancrede in the middle of the men's choruses appears on the last bar, sword in hand'.(42) To postpone the crusaders' entrance - and hence Herminie's knowledge of the outcome-until the end of the 17 bars of victory music heightens the princess's anxiety and the dramatic tension.
Unfortunately, the promptbook is mute about how much and what kind of acting took place in this production.(59) Nonetheless, Luynes's comment that the bass duet (|Suivons la fureur') |was perfectly executed, as much for the music as for the acting [le jeu de theatre]' suggests a lively performance.(60) Furthermore, one prompt note specifically indicates that |[Clorinde] walks about'(61) during the eight-bar musical interlude that separates recitative from air in Act 2, scene 1.
The holdings of the Bibliotheque de Versailles (F-V) include what may well be the earliest extant source of stage directions for a tragidie en musique: a printed score in reduced format of Andre Campra's Tancrede, containing over 120 manuscript prompt notes.(1) This promptbook provides instructions for entrances, exits, movement on stage, lighting, stage effects, costume changes and several changes to the operatic score itself.(2) Given the scarcity of known promptbooks of any sort for Baroque operas, the presence of these annotations in a score rather than a libretto renders them particularly valuable.(3) As we shall see, many of the notes convey instructions that relate to the music as well as to the text.
Several blocking patterns emerge from these prompt notes. (1) Main characters who are to interact with one another enter from opposite sides of the stage.