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The Return of Ulysses

(Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria)

Music by Claudio Monteverdi

RNCM Theatre, 11 December 2012

Heather Lowe as Penelope and Daniel Shelvey as Ulysses.  Photo by Paul Cliff.

Heather Lowe as Penelope and Daniel Shelvey as Ulysses. Photo by Paul Cliff.

This is an absolutely wonderful production of Monteverdi’s great pioneering opera.

As with the RNCM’s previous production of Xerxes, we are in the ancient world.  Ulysses winds his way homeward toward Penelope, his path alternately lighted and obstructed by the gods.  We are in an unfinished universe, one where creation, humanity and even the gods themselves are all works-in-progress.

The opera has formidable dramatic force and genuine epic grandeur, and everything about the production brings these qualities to the fore.  There are a bevy of beautiful performances, not least from Catrin Woodruff as Minerva, Ulysses’ valuable ally; there is an audaciously designed and adaptable set, serving as rampart and rocky shore; and an authentic rendering of Monteverdi’s music, the orchestra playing on harpsichord, baroque harp and theorbo…  Together, they made a sumptuous sound and contributed to a sumptuous experience as well.

The Return of Ulysses is showing again on Thursday and Saturday, further details can be found here.

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