In celebration of the 450th anniversary of Claudio Monteverdi's birth, Wratislavia Cantans is proud to announce the Opening Celebration of its 52nd edition with two very special performances of Monteverdi’s Il ritorno di Ulisse in patria (The Return of Ulysses to his Homeland). Join us as early music champion Sir John Eliot Gardiner conducts the most melancholic and meditative of Monteverdi’s operas!
Monteverdi, celebrated by music historians as the founder of modern opera, was the first to compose a truly remarkable operatic work, his Orfeo in 1607. In doing so, he legitimately brought a new form of music into the mainstream. At the dawn of the 17th century, Venice was quickly becoming Opera’s epicenter, its streets flooded with commedia dell’arte troupes and six opera houses were established in the vicinity. These initial operas were being written with an emphasis increasingly placed on the individual, and it was Monteverdi who communicated emotion through music for the first time. The previous Renaissance style compositions, which had been conveyed thru polyphonic spectacles with every voice of equal importance and restrained neutral emotions, where abrasively sacred in nature. Claudio Monteverdi, began transforming the miniature form of the madrigal into a full-scale music drama.
Il ritorno di Ulisse in patria (The Return of Ulysses to his Homeland) had its debut in Venice in 1641, as part of the annual carnival season. Based on the second half of Homer’s Odyssey it is a tale of treachery and deception, eventually overcome by fidelity and love, about a Greek warrior during the Trojan war fated to wander for 20 years before he is able to return to his homeland and his long-suffering wife, Penelope. After two decades of war, the weary Ulysses is washed up on the rocky shore of his home island of Ithaca. There, he discovers the hordes of depraved admirers who have besieged his faithful wife and thus he launches into battle to win back her love.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner, acknowledged as a key figure in the early music revival of the past four decades, and his ensembles, the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, have undertaken a number of large-scale tours, pioneering projects all over the world with the aim of bringing life to music from past centuries by returning it’s relevance to modern audiences.
Alixandra Porembski, English Language Annotator