Music theatre Opera 1981

Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria

Claudio Monteverdi, Venezia 1641, Poetry by Giacomo Badoaro

Freely reconstructed by Hans Werner Henze

Commissioned by the Salzburger Festspiele

Year of composition 1981
Duration 180 minutes

To Franco Serpa with gratitude

World premiere

World premiere 11. August 1985

Salzburger Festspiele · Felsenreitschule

ORF-Symphonieorchester

Production Michael Hampe
Stage and costume design Mauro Pagano
Light design Hans Toelstede
Choreography Marise Flach
Conductor Jeffrey Tate

Comment

My only points of reference in attempting to envision and hear this opera anew, were the catalogue of instruments belonging to the theatre of San Cassiano in Venice (where the work was first performed in 1640/41), Monteverdi’s writings, and, primarily, the scores for the works he himself composed and orchestrated prior to “Ulisse”. All I had to rely on of Monteverdi’s “Ulisse” were the scarce materials that remained (in a copyist’s hand). From these I sought to convincingly recapture, with a modern orchestra, the great range of emotions in Monteverdi’s original.

Hans Werner Henze

Cast

The scene takes place in Ithaka, the island in the Ionian sea
performing the prologue:

La Fortunasoprano
Amorsoprano chiaro o voce Bianca
contra-tenore o mezzosopranothe human frailty
bassothe time
Minervasoprano
Junomezzosoprano
Melanthomezzosopranohandmaiden of Penelope
ErikleamezzosopranoOdysseus’ nurse
Penelopecontraltowife of Odysseus
Jupiter tenore
Telemach tenoreson of Odysseus
Pisandros tenoresuitor of Penelope
Anfinomos tenoresuitor of Penelope
Eurymachos tenoresuitor of Penelope
Eumaios tenoreshephard, slave of Odysseus
Iros tenore buffoa clumsy supporter of
the suitors
Odysseus baritone
Neptun basso
Antinoos bassosuitor of Penelope
coro mistochorus in heaven

Instrumentation

2 Flautianche Ottavini
2 Flauti contralti2° anche Flauto basso
1 Oboe
1 Oboe d’amore
2 Corni inglesi2° anche Heckelphon
2 Clarinetti
2 Clarinetti bassi2° anche Clarinetto contrabbasso
4 Fagotti4° anche Controfagotto
4 Corni
2 Trombe piccole in re
2 Trombe in do
2 Tromboni tenori
2 Tromboni bassi
Timpani
PercussioneCrotali
Piatti sopesi
Tamburo basco
Tomtom
Tamburo militare
Tumba bassa
Grancassa
Loo-jon
Lastra di metallo
Gong cinesi
Glockenspiel
Vibrafono
Marimba
Metallofono basso
Campane tubolari
[per4]
Arpa
Celesta
Pianoforte
Chitarra
Chitarra elettrica
Chitarra bassa
Banjo tenore
Mandolino
Fisarmonica(o Armonio o Organo)
1 Viola d’amore
7 Viole
8 Violoncelli
6 Contrabbassi