Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra Monteverdi and his Contemporaries St. Andrew's Church January 11 The highlight of the capital's music scene last week was the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra's performance of Monteverdi's miniature opera The Battle of Tancred and Clorinda (1624), which was conducted by David Shemer. Despite being nearly 400 years old (it was one of the earliest operas) The Battle did not sound antiquated at all. Monteverdi's flair for high drama and intensely emotional expression, occasionally spiced with a pinch of humor, has an appeal that spans the centuries. Excitement, rage and profound grief are all conveyed through economic means - with just three singers and six instruments providing the sound. Soprano Ayala Sicron, tenor David Nortman and baritone Jonathan Haimovich's rendition of the classic opera was faithful to Monteverdi's late Renaissance style, and appropriately expressed the story's constantly changing emotions. The orchestra's performance swept the dust off the music and sounded fresh, lively and appealing. In the program's hors d'oeuvre pieces, interest focused on Hebrew songs by the Jewish Renaissance composer Salamone Rossi. Written in pure Renaissance style, Rossi skillfully wove the vocal polyphonic parts transparently so as to make the Hebrew text clearly understandable - an effect enhanced by the careful enunciation of the singers.