Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria
I also rented Monteverdi's Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria from my public library. This staging is from the Zurich Opera with Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducting La Scintilla. There are no horns in this, so we're safe.
This is my best Monteverdi experience to date. (See here and here.) Harnoncourt really keeps it lively and dynamic.
Ulysses has been away at war for ten years, plus more years getting lost around the Mediterranean in a book called the Odyssey, and he is concerned when he at last arrives home again that his wife Penelope has been faithful.
He finds the house full of suitors. The suitors are puppets. Everything else about this production makes sense, but why are the suitors puppets? Maybe this is to soften the fact that Ulysses kills them all. Puppets don't bleed.
I was particularly fond of Ulysses, sung beautifully by Dietrich Henschel, in his disguise as a bum. He had wild white hair like Fidel Castro. Penelope is sung by Vesselina Kasarova. The part is very low and difficult to make effective, but she is very somber and moving. She is especially convincing in the finale where Penelope has difficulty making the transition to happiness.
There are lots of characters, both gods and mortals, and it gets a bit confusing.