Friday, 25 January 2008

41. Claudio Monteverdi - Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria (1640)


Title: Il Ritorno D'Ulisse In Patria
Performers: Sven Olof Eliasson, László Anderko, Nikolaus Simkowsky, Rotraud Hansmann, Junge Kantorei, Vienna Concentus Musicus
Director: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Year: 1971
Length: 2 hours 40 minutes (or thereabouts)


I really like Monteverdi's Operas, the context is always epic, the music is always entertaining and it mixes the most depressive characters with (the exception being L'Orfeo) some great comic relief. This opera is no exception.

There are advantages and disadvantages between this and L'Orfeo, it shows that the composer is much more mature, the opera sustains the interest of the viewer and listener all the way to the end (I watched the Harnoncourt Deutsche Grammophone DVD as well as listening to this recording) and is not as top heavy as L'Orfeo.

Nonetheless the fact that this opera is not as dependent on choirs and leitmotifs makes it never reach the heights of singalongability (new word!) of the former opera. The inclusion of very extensive arias, like the one from Penelope at the beggining of the first act also slightly breaks the pace, but in a more interesting way than the long scenes with Charon in L'Orfeo.

All in all it was another very enjoyable opera to listen to and to see as well.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

This was Monteverdi's first opera for Venice. The opera was very successful in Venice, where it had ten performances, and was then taken to the Teatro Castrovillani in Bologna, and in 1641 was revived in Venice. In Bologna, and most likely Venice as well, the singers were Giulia Paolelli as Penelope, Maddalena Manelli as Minerva, and Francesco Manelli as Ulysses. The attribution of this work has been seriously questioned, however the attribution to Monteverdi still stands. The extant librettos differ significantly from the score, however Monteverdi was known to be a very active editor of the texts he set. The first modern revival was lead by Vincent d'Indy in Paris in 1925. A number of twentieth century composers edited, or "translated", the work for performance, including Luigi Dallapiccola and Hans Werner Henze, and finally entered the opera mainstream in 1971 with performances in Vienna and Glyndebourne, and an edition by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, along with recordings.

Excerpts from another production of the Opera:

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