From July 16 at 9:00 PM, Il Ritorno di Ulisse in Patria will be available on demand on the It’s Art streaming platform, as it was performed at the Teatro della Pergola for the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino festival.
The new production of this wonderful opera by Claudio Monteverdi, conducted by Ottavio Dantone and directed by Robert Carsen, has been enthusiastically received by critics and audiences (read the reviews of Il Ritorno di Ulisse in Patria conducted by Dantone).
Once purchased on It’s Art, the show will always be available on demand, to be watched on PC, smart TV, smartphone or tablet.
Claudio Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno di Ulisse in Patria: synopsis
For twenty years Penelope has been waiting in the palace of Ithaca for the return of her beloved Ulysses, vehemently rejecting the marriage proposals made to her by her suitors, the Proci (foreign princes who have long since settled in the palace). Penelope does not give in, she still believes in the return of her hero from the Trojan War.
In the meantime some sailors find the sleeping body of Ulysses in a deserted part of the island and leave him on the beach. The goddess Minerva arrives and changes his appearance into a beggar.
Penelope can hardly restrain her suitors’ proposals and decides to hold a competition: whoever manages to shoot an arrow from Ulysses’ bow will become her husband. The suitors try, but the extremely rigid bow does not bend to their attempts.
Now the beggar/Ulysses makes his way forward, and a courtier reveals his true appearance.
Penelope is still in doubt, but the beggar tells her details of their bridal chamber that only Ulysses could know. Penelope has no more doubts and can finally be reunited with her beloved, long-awaited husband.
The manuscript of Ritorno di Ulisse in Patria
Il ritorno di Ulisse in Patria by Claudio Monteverdi was performed in Venice during the Carnival season of 1640.
The same year it was performed in Bologna and again in Venice the following year, only to end up as one of Monteverdi’s lost compositions.
Towards the end of the 19th century, a manuscript entitled Il ritorno di Ulisse (The Return of Ulysses) was found in Vienna: this is the only known source of the opera to date. Compared to the dozen or so surviving librettos, the manuscript musical copy has numerous differences, which led scholars to doubt that it was not really Monteverdi’s opera.
Today, although it cannot be ruled out that other composers may have worked on some pages, the Vienna source is universally recognised as Monteverdi’s opera.
When preparing a new edition of the opera, working on a single source can sometimes be a problem, as it is not possible to compare with different sources when interpretation is doubtful. For example: the Vienna manuscript divides the opera into three acts while the librettos divides it in five acts. Some scenes are absent from the score, although the manuscript does not appear to be damaged or missing any pages. Copying errors, changes of key for some vocal roles and the possibility that sometimes the copyist may have reversed the attribution of the correct character, all contribute to making a new edition of an opera by Monteverdi a fascinating new adventure.
(Photo © Michele Monasta – Maggio Musicale Fiorentino)