Il Ritorno d’Ulisse

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I saw “Il Ritorno d’Ulisse” last week, and found it absolutely extraordinary. It was part of Lincoln Center’s White Lights Festival, with music by Claudio Monteverdi, the libretto after Homer, and with William Kentridge as director. Also taking major parts: the Handspring Puppet Company and the Ricercar Consort with ancient instruments like a theorbo and some viola da gambas.

As Kentridge wrote in his “Director’s Note,” it was a prologue written by Monteverdi and his librettist Badoaro “with its central theme and image of the human as vulnerable rather than heroic that brought me to do the opera.” Images of the body abound in the animation films and in Kentridge’s drawings that play as backdrop to the piece. The puppets are marvelously carved, manipulated by professional puppeteers aided by the magnificent singers. Of course, the music is ravishing.

Truly, opera like this includes and seems the fruition of all the arts!

Flora Biddle

 

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