Written during the final five years of Claudio Monteverdi’s life and widely acclaimed as his crowning achievement, The Return of Ulysses was his first opera for the city of Venice, a city known for a network of thriving and competing opera houses. Combining an action-packed plot with a musical exploration of the full range of human emotions, The Return of Ulysses broke new musical ground at its Venice premiere way back in 1640.
For a limited season this June, Sydneysiders can enjoy The Return of Ulysses in grand style, based on the closing chapters of Homer’s Odyssey. The performance, staged by Pinchgut Opera, features Portuguese tenor Fernando Guimarães in the title role. Fernando was last seen in Australia in the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s Handel: Heaven. He has sung the role of Ulysses to international acclaim including a double Grammy nomination in 2015 for his portrayal with Boston Baroque.
Australian mezzo-soprano Catherine Carby, whose performances have earned her rave reviews around the world, joins Fernando as his deserted wife Penelope. The production will be directed by bold and inventive American director Chas Rader-Shieber, with set and costumes designed by Pinchgut favourite Melanie Liertz.
Pinchgut Opera is known for presenting operatic masterpieces from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Since its inception in 2002, Pinchgut has presented twenty-one rarely performed gems. The creative team is driven by both musical excellence and academic rigour, and fuelled by a desire to unearth rarely performed operas and then faithfully present them for audiences. While other Australian opera companies present the more familiar operas excellently, Pinchgut is about discovering a new operatic experience. They have certainly sustained outstanding critical success.
The Return of Ulysses sees the lead character returning home after ten years of the Trojan War, followed by a further ten years sailing across the oceans. But everything has changed during his absence, and instead of a hero’s welcome, Ulysses finds his palace occupied by rival kings keen to seduce his wife Penelope and kill his son. Tension and drama is created as we wonder whether Ulysses will ever regain his wife and home.
The opera runs for around 3 hours, with an interval, is performed in Italian with English subtitles, and is bound to thrill an audience who love intense performances, drama and history presented by composers of the time.
The Return of Ulysses runs from the 13th to the 19th June 2019 at Sydney’s City Recital Hall. Tickets and more info available HERE.