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Il ritorno d’Ulisse
in patria

Claudio Monteverdi Il ritorno d’Ulisse
1567-1643 in patria

Ulisse Furio Zanasi

Penelope Lucile Richardot
Telemaco Krystian Adam
Minerva/Fortuna Hana Blažíková
Tempo/Nettuno/Antinoo Gianluca Buratto
Pisandro Michał Czerniawski
Anfinomo Gareth Treseder
Eurimaco Zachary Wilder
Melanto Anna Dennis
Giove John Taylor Ward
Giunone Francesca Boncompagni
Iro Robert Burt
Eumete Francisco Fernández-Rueda
Humana Fragilità Carlo Vistoli
Amore Silvia Frigato
Ericlea Francesca Biliotti

Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists
John Eliot Gardiner

Claudio Monteverdi Il ritorno d’Ulisse
1567-1643 in patria

CD1 74:46 Act 1

1 9:01 Prologue Mortal cosa son io: Humana Fragilità, Tempo, Fortuna, Amore
2 10:57 Scene I Di misera Regina: Penelope, Ericlea
3 10:54 Scene II Duri, e penosi: Melanto, Eurimaco
4 7:23 Scene IV-V Superbo è l’huom: Nettuno, Giove
5 3:13 Scene VI In questo basso mondo: Coro di Feaci, Nettuno
6 3:52 Scene VII Dormo ancora, o son desto?: Ulisse
7 12:23 Scene VIII Cara e lieta gioventù: Minerva, Ulisse, Coro di ninfe
8 1:57 Scene IX Tu d’Aretusa al fonte intanto vanne: Minerva, Ulisse
9 8:23 Scene X Donate un giorno, o dèi: Penelope, Melanto
10 1:50 Scene XI Come mal si salva un regio ammanto: Eumete
11 1:52 Scene XII Pastor d’armenti può: Iro, Eumete
12 3:00 Scene XIII Ulisse generoso: Eumete, Ulisse

CD2 71:28 Act 2

1 0:30 Sinfonia
2 2:01 Scene I Lieto cammino: Telemaco, Minerva
3 5:43 Scene II O gran figlio d’Ulisse: Eumete, Ulisse, Telemaco
4 7:21 Scene III Che veggio, oimé, che miro?: Telemaco, Ulisse
5 2:32 Scene IV Eurimaco, la donna: Melanto, Eurimaco
6 7:01 Scene V Sono l’altre Regine: Antinoo, Anfinomo, Pisandro, Penelope
7 5:13 Scene VI All’allegrezze dunque: Pisandro, Anfinomo, Antinoo, Coro
8 1:12 Scene VII Apportator d’alte novelle vengo: Eumete, Penelope
9 6:31 Scene VIII Compagni, udiste?: Antinoo, Anfinomo, Pisandro, Eurimaco
10 3:05 Scene IX Perir non può chi tien per scorta il Cielo: Ulisse, Minerva
11 2:02 Scene X Io vidi, o pelegrin, de’ Proci amanti: Eumete, Ulisse
12 4:55 Scene XI Del mio lungo vïaggio i torti errori: Telemaco, Penelope
13 23:19 Scene XII-XIII Sempre, villano Eumete: Antinoo, Eumete, Iro, Ulisse,
Telemaco, Penelope, Pisandro, Anfinomo

CD3 38:56 Act 3

1 7:07 Scene I O dolor, o martir che l’alma attrista: Iro

2 2:11 Scene IV Forza d’occulto affetto: Eumete, Penelope
3 2:28 Scene V È saggio Eumete, è saggio: Telemaco, Penelope
4 3:28 Scene VI Fiamma è l’ira, o gran Dea: Minerva, Giunone
5 9:30 Scene VII Gran Giove: Giunone, Giove, Nettuno, Minerva,
Coro in cielo, Coro marittimo
6 3:25 Scene VIII Ericlea, che vuoi far?: Ericlea
7 0:52 Scene IX Ogni vostra ragion sen porta ’l vento:
Penelope, Telemaco, Eumete
8 9:54 Scene X O delle mie fatiche: Ulisse, Penelope, Ericlea

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The Return of Ulysses This recording of Il ritorno d’Ulisse was made in vent
Wrocław in September 2017 at the culmination of his a
to his Homeland a seven-month exploration of Monteverdi’s three he c
John Eliot Gardiner surviving operas. To mark the 450th anniversary achi
of his birth we assembled a tight-knit band of stag
singers and players for 33 performances in eight is be
European countries, ending our cycle in Chicago he h
and New York. No doubt Monteverdi would have ente
been dumbfounded if he had been told that such mem
would be the lasting fame of his operas 374 years who
after his death they would reach an estimated qual
70,000 listeners (and that is before counting any first
of the other celebratory performances given in write
different parts of the world in 2017!). But whereas Lord
only 50 years ago his music lay on the margins Veni
of audiences’ awareness, today staged versions there
of his operas are relatively frequent, though only of th
L’incoronazione di Poppea has so far broken into temp
the canon of mainstream operas. Ironically we can’t hom
even be sure that in these three survivors we have fidel
the best of what he actually composed, so many I
works having been lost over the centuries. From wish
what people said at the time the most grievous epito
losses were his Arianna (1608) and Le nozze d’Enea allur
con Lavinia (1641). Yet the ones which have survived cent
are all dramatically gripping, humanly truthful and of confi
dazzling musical beauty. of th
What was it then that persuaded Monteverdi belie
to come out of operatic retirement in his 74th year trilog
and, in a last great burst of creativity, to make such mov
seminal contributions to the new genre? After all, was
he had recently taken holy orders, and as the busy perfo
maestro di cappella of St Mark’s Basilica there bein
was not a lot of spare time to take on commercial in Ve

ventures as well. Was it the opportunity to preach both then and now lies in the fluidity of Monteverdi’s
his aesthetic creed to a wider, paying audience that musical discourse, his skill in adjusting to the rapidly
he could not resist? Monteverdi believed that music changing moods and inflections of Badoaro’s libretto
achieves maximum impact when delivered on the and gliding almost imperceptibly from declamation
stage, and that when defined by time and space it to more lyrical song-like passages. At the same
is best equipped to “move the human passions”, as time he generates bold contrasts and a dynamic
he himself put it. This is where Giacomo Badoaro interaction between the characters – gods, heroes,
enters the story. The librettist of Ulisse was a leading as well as lowlife characters (some virtuous, others
member of the Venetian Accademia degli Incogniti seedy). Within an overarching musical structure he
who were said to be less than impressed by the creates gut-wrenching suspense – how long can
quality of the operas produced since the theatres the inconsolable Penelope hold out against the
first opened in 1637. Badoaro took it upon himself to three suitors and the whispered arguments of her
write a flattering letter to Monteverdi “to incite your maid Melanto? Monteverdi makes us see that the
Lordship’s virtues to make known to the people of carapace of denial that Penelope has formed in self-
Venice that where strong emotions are concerned, protection prevents her from accepting that the only
there is a vast difference between a painted image person able to string Ulysses’ bow and to dispatch
of the sun and the sun itself”. Was that enough to the suitors is the man standing right in front of her –
tempt him, or was it the Homeric story of Ulysses’ her own returning husband.
homecoming to Ithaca, with its timeless themes of No autograph manuscript score of Ulisse
fidelity, remorse and passion, that attracted him? survives. A single copy made a decade after the
Il ritorno d’Ulisse had been at the top of my composer’s death was discovered in 1881 in Vienna
wish list of works to conduct since I was 21. It and has been available in facsimile only since
epitomised for me all that was most exotic and 2006. This score, which has missing instrumental
alluring about Italian music of the early seventeenth lines and a few musical blanks, also departs in a
century. Performing Ulisse for the first time in 2017 number of significant respects from the nine extant
confirmed to me its stature as the worthy equal manuscript librettos only one of which appears to
of the more celebrated L’Orfeo and Poppea, but I have been prepared with direct reference to the
believe that all of us involved in the full Monteverdi score. From this we can trace the places where
trilogy found it to be the most compelling and Monteverdi chose to cut and rearrange Badoaro’s
moving of the three. At its première in 1640 Ulisse text to make it more dramatically coherent. Baodaro
was a rousing success: it received at least ten later tactfully admitted that “having seen the opera
performances in Venice to packed houses before performed ten times, I can positively affirm that my
being taken on tour to Bologna and then revived Ulysses is more obligated to your Lordship than the
in Venice the following year. The key to its success real Ulysses was to the ever-charming Minerva”.

7 7
With no ‘final’ or ‘authentic’ version of Ulisse to rely the Ulisse première) for the dumbshow of the suitors’ and
on, the first priority for any performer is to reconcile failed attempts to string Ulysses’ bow in Act 2 scene Follo
these surviving sources and to correct the obvious XII, and a capricious fragment to announce Ericlea’s da G
discrepancies and copyist’s errors*. Monteverdi’s entry in Act 3 scene VIII. were
last two operas did not simply crystallise into Decisions regarding all the remaining editorial to m
unchanging ‘works’ with a fixed text, but as living and performance practice issues flowed from a de
organisms they were constantly subject to layers of the initial premise – to perform the trilogy, not in pron
additions, cuts, transpositions, and revisions. Each proscenium theatres equipped with lavish stage sens
attempt to revive them in our day will perforce come machinery, decor and props, but in concert halls Dalle
up with a different solution. (the exception being the Teatro La Fenice in Venice the c
When it came to plugging those gaps where where we performed two complete cycles on a whe
no music survives in the Vienna score it seemed thrust forestage). Our target was to reach beyond expr
preferable to draw on Monteverdi’s own music, the demographic of opera-going aficionados and flow
albeit from an earlier period, rather than to scan for to connect with a wider and younger audience for cons
other contemporary music by his pupils or peers. Monteverdi. By presenting his trilogy in vivid but acce
For despite the marked differences of form and pared-down stagings we aimed to communicate once
idiom and the 33 years that separate Ulisse from the radical and explosive force of these great the s
his first opera L’Orfeo, there are clear fingerprints music dramas, the emotional depths they plumb, ‘sing
of Monteverdi’s consistent approach to word- and their strikingly modern feel, without losing the can
setting in both works – evidence of his commitment intrinsic intimacy of form and dialectic. We know rece
to the ideals of what he called ‘imitation’ and (this time from another of his librettists, Michelangelo expr
‘representation’. So for the chorus of Naiads in Act Torcigliani) that Monteverdi was always on the look and
1 scene VI ,as they rescue Ulysses’ belongings and out for libretti with shifting moods – “because they spee
treasures from the shore, we found a neat fit with offer him the opportunity of showing the marvels cons
his three-part balletto ‘De la bellezza le dovute lodi’ of his art with a full range of pathos, adapting his mirro
from his Scherzi musicali (1607). For the ballo greco notes to the words and the passions in such a way To m
in Act 2 scene VI where the suitors intensify their that the singer laughs, cries, becomes enraged, uses
wooing of Penelope we have gone back to three compassionate, and does everything else they ask Mon
sections of Monteverdi’s choral ballet Tirsi e Clori of of him; meanwhile the listener is drawn by the same and
1615 (probably his first semi-theatrical work to be impetus into experiencing the variety and force of unva
composed in Venice and published four years later those same passions”. origi
in his Seventh Book of Madrigals). Finally, we found A large portion of our rehearsals was devoted sets
room for brief, anguished entrate from his Ballo delle to exploring Monteverdi’s brilliant fusion of music bass
ingrate (1608, but published only two years before and words and to making sure that both singers regu

and instrumentalists fully engaged with the text. expressive dissonances at key moments when he
Following the precepts of his contemporary Marco contrives that these two complementary lines should
da Gagliano, himself a composer of operas, we collide and clash.
were seeking “to chisel out the syllables so as Imagine my delight, then, when I discovered
to make the words well understood” through that the late stage director Sir Peter Hall pointed
a delivery not simply accurate in linguistic to something strikingly similar in the technique
pronunciation and inflection, but given with a used by Shakespeare in his great tragedies and
sensual relish. Our language coach, Matteo late plays which were written at exactly the same
Dalle Fratte, went to great lengths to point out to time as Monteverdi was setting out as a composer
the cast the mesmerising beauty of sung Italian of operas. Hall refers to “a freedom in verse which
when consonants are projected percussively and is perfectly miraculous. [In The Winter’s Tale]
expressively in counterpoint to the smooth legato Leontes’ twisted passion and paranoia is accurately
flow of the vowels. This applies not just to double expressed by his clotted, irregular rhythms and
consonants but to comma punctuation, agogic mis-accents. But these irregularities only make
accents, word repetitions and exclamations. Only emotional sense and can only affect an audience if
once the technique has been fully mastered by the actor knows the underlying regularity beneath
the singer-actors (as opposed to the dreaded them. He must revel in the cross-rhythms, ride the
‘singerese’ – the disease of so many opera singers), irregularities and use the bumps in the smoothness
can this produce a frisson in the way words will be for emotional purposes.” So far so uncannily
received by the listener; but it also enhances the parallel. Hall compared playing the mature verse of
expressive vocabulary of Monteverdi’s word-setting Shakespeare to the challenges facing a great jazz
and his cunning way of imitating the accents of player – though this applies equally well, I feel, to a
speech. The slight anticipation of the incoming singer or continuo player interpreting Monteverdi’s
consonant and a minuscule delay before the vowel opera scores: “the beat must be kept, the rhythm
mirrors the thought processes of the narration. always sensed. But it is the tension between that
To me this is analogous to the ways Monteverdi regularity and the irregularity of the speech [or in
uses both rhythm and counterpoint. In his operas Monteverdi’s case, the vocal line set against the
Monteverdi habitually uses an alternation of duple basso continuo] which expresses the emotional
and triple metre against an implied tactus (a regular turmoil. The nearer the verse gets to collapsing,
unvarying beat). That is where the rhythmic frisson the more tortured and emotional the expression.
originates. Added to this is the harmonic tension he But it must never collapse, any more than the
sets up between his vocal lines and the supporting jazz musician can ever miss the beat or be ‘out’.
basso continuo. The latter normally proceeds with a The actor must risk rhythmical disintegration, but
regular harmonic rhythm or pulse, but burgeons into never surrender to it. What the audience receives

9 9
is therefore unexpected, dangerous, and always instrumentalists to a pit we decided to follow natu
unpredictable” [Exposed by the Mask]. John Berger Marco da Gagliano’s injunction: “Be advised that Natu
expresses something similar: “The way singers play the instruments which must accompany the solo and
with or defy the linearity of time has something in voices should be situated in a position to look and
common with what acrobats and jugglers do with the actors in the face, so that hearing each other Mon
the force of gravity... The tempo, the beat, the loops, better they can proceed together”. This had two anti-
the repetitions of a song construct a shelter from the additional advantages: it allowed the audience to the m
flow of linear time: a shelter in which future, present have ‘the engine room’ of the drama in full view, with mist
and past can console, provoke, ironise and inspire the instrumentalists deployed in two symmetrical resto
one another” [Confabulations]. half-moons, and to witness the interaction of players traje
In Ulisse we can hear how Monteverdi’s skilful and singers at every twist and turn. And since we But
transitions from conversational ‘sung speech’ were playing in medium-to-large concert halls and this.
(recitative) to pure song (aria) and a combination of not constrained by the economically austere and Pene
the two (arioso) serve to intensify the expression of spatially restricted instrumentarium of the Venetian as S
the characters’ temperament and states of mind. commercial theatres of the 1640s, we opted to an in
In practice each performer needs to be constantly augment the continuo group to include a lirone, a expl
aware of the direction of the discourse – of harp and pairs of recorders and cornetti, without beyo
Monteverdi’s crucial distinction between narration compromising the intimacy of dialogue or the Mon
(diegesis) and representation (mimesis) – and how projection of the words. Similarly we underpinned step
this impacts on the forward motion of the action with vigorous string articulation the passages act o
as well as the emotional content and ‘tone’ of where Monteverdi resorts to a warlike trope in his sphe
each monologue or exchange. This distinction was concitato (agitated) style to convey contempt, ire in hu
something new in the evolution of music-theatre or bellicosity. This is analogous to his practice in a fun
at the time, and it developed in parallel with the his Madrigali guerrieri, et amorosi (1638) and to that
techniques Shakespeare was then exploring in what he prescribes for Ulisse’s wrestling match to on
his late plays. When Hamlet says in Act 2 scene II with Iro and the sinfonia da guerra which concludes depr
“Now I am alone. Oh, what a rogue and peasant Act 2. Elsewhere from time to time we introduced coin
slave am I!” – quite obviously he is not alone, but improvised lines to emphasise the distinction in th
in fact addressing a noisy audience at The Globe between the gods and the humans, and between Velá
theatre. The critical thing is how to create the illusion the benign pastoral realm and the suffocating world at th
of intimacy: how to reveal raw and highly personal of Penelope’s court.** ener
emotion with overwhelming intensity, but without This juxtaposition of two opposed worlds is conv
anyone having to force their voices. strikingly similar to those one finds in Shakespeare’s I
In our performances rather than consign the As You Like It, where the forest stands for freedom, duet

natural goodness and life in harmony with the very first time? They have not spoken in twenty
Nature, while the court, peopled by sycophants years. He returns after being reported missing. She
and pretenders, symbolises all that is tainted has remained steadfast and unbending, breaking
and treacherous. Might we therefore consider into song only when she has irrefutable proof that he
Monteverdi’s Ulisse to be a kind of Shakespearean is her man. But they now share the language of love
anti-comedy? After all, it culminates in a return to with touching, life-affirming unanimity.
the marriage bed following a tale of unravelling and
mistaken identity before the natural order is finally *I am grateful to James Halliday and Paolo Zanzu
restored. No other plot of the period has this kind of for their help in this regard,
trajectory apart from Shakespearean tragicomedy.
But the parallels with the Bard extend well beyond **I am grateful to the following colleagues for their
this. In his portrayal of Ulysses, and still more of valuable improvised contributions – Paolo Zanzu,
Penelope, Monteverdi shows his deep concern, Antonio Greco, Kati Debretzeni, Rachel Beckett,
as Shakespeare does in Hamlet and King Lear, for Jamie Savan and James Halliday.
an interior world – both playwright and composer
exploring complex thoughts and feelings that extend
beyond words and actions. Il ritorno d’Ulisse,
Monteverdi’s antepenultimate opera, marks another
step in a life spent transforming music – from an
act of skilled artifice reflecting the harmony of the
spheres into a dramatised form of expression rooted
in human truths and emotions. This amounted to
a fundamental switch – from a musical language
that spoke primarily in metaphysical affirmatives
to one capable of mirroring a world full of squalor,
depravity but also of redemptive love. It happens to
coincide exactly with one of those turbulent periods
in the history of painting, when artists such as
Velázquez, Rembrandt, or Artemesia Gentileschi, all
at the height of their powers, were unleashing their
energy and taking equivalent liberties with hallowed
Is there any other opera that culminates in a
duet in which the two protagonists sing together for

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‘A mortal thing am I’ Claudio Monteverdi may have felt some resonance Ope
with the opening line of the prologue to Il ritorno
Tim Carter d’Ulisse in patria (1640), delivered by the allegorical Duri
character, L’humana fragilità (Human Frailty). At the only
age of 73 he was taking the extraordinary step of and
returning to the operatic stage. His long history of piec
writing music for the theatre had begun while he cele
was employed as a musician at the court of Duke pop
Vincenzo Gonzaga of Mantua. There he had been a gre
involved in all the major theatrical genres of the obse
late Renaissance, including plays with intermedi, the s
sung and danced balli and a new Florentine sma
invention: the favola in musica – or what we now sma
call opera. For the last, his L’Orfeo (1607) is a trad
wholly remarkable work and the earliest example I
of the genre that has a place in the repertory. open
He followed it with Arianna (1608), which attracted publ
huge attention at its time, but the music is now mus
lost apart from its famous lament for Arianna. Man
Monteverdi’s move to Venice in 1613 the p
necessarily forced him to focus more on music regu
for the church and for civic ceremonial in his For
capacity as choirmaster of St Mark’s Basilica. But appe
he continued to write secular and even theatrical oper
music in response to commissions from Mantua By t
and other north Italian courts (including Parma), as work
well as from Venetian noblemen closer to home, T
and in the 1630s he forged connections with the succ
Habsburgs in Vienna. No-one can have expected just
him to return to writing full-length operas so late who
in his career, however. Why he did so, and how its a
he managed to accommodate himself to new and its s
rapidly changing musical styles, are questions that Thom
demand some exploration. part

Opera in Venice heard there in churches, on the streets and by
way of the delicate hands and warbling throats
During the first third of the 17th century, opera had of seductive courtesans. The fact that the opera
only a sporadic history in the north Italian courts season essentially ran through Carnival (officially,
and in Rome. Operas were essentially occasional from the day after Christmas to the start of Lent)
pieces designed for single performances to tended to accentuate its libidinous pleasures
celebrate special events. Nor were they always derived from its subject matter and also from its
popular, given that courtly audiences did not have performers.
a great desire to sit for long periods passively The resulting opera industry in Venice
observing the playing out of a musical drama on depended on complex interactions between
the stage. The number of operas produced was theatre owners, impresarios and independent
small – and the number that were repeated was entrepreneurs: poets, composers, singers,
smaller still – so it is hard to speak of a continuous instrumentalists, dancing-masters, stage designers,
tradition. costume manufacturers – and so on and so forth
In 1637 the Teatro San Cassiano in Venice down the line. Presumably there was money to be
opened its doors as an opera house for a paying made in the venture, even if success depended
public. The initiative seems to have come from two on a gamble that could be won or lost. We do not
musician-poets, Benedetto Ferrari and Francesco know whether Monteverdi saw any profit in the
Manelli, who formed a troupe on the model of enterprise. But as the most distinguished musician
the players of the commedia dell’arte who were a in Venice at the time, he was clearly enlisted to
regular fixture in Venetian theatres and elsewhere. serve the cause.
For some reason, the idea took off: five new operas
appeared in the next three seasons and three other Monteverdi (re)takes the stage
opera houses had opened up in the city by 1641.
By the end of the 1646/47 season, some 33 new Monteverdi moved cautiously, staying in the wings
works and six revivals had been staged there. in the first three seasons of public opera in Venice.
The new public opera was clearly a commercial For Carnival 1640–41 he also in effect played two
success. Venice had a ready-made market not theatres against each other, reviving his Arianna at
just from its citizens but also from the tourists the Teatro San Moisè and producing a new opera,
who then (as now) travelled to the city to enjoy Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, probably at the Teatro
its architectural and artistic delights – and also Santi Giovanni e Paolo. It is hard to imagine what
its sensual pleasures. When the English visitor Venetian audiences might have made of Arianna,
Thomas Coryate visited Venice in 1608 he drew by now over 30 years old (we do not know whether
particular attention to the music that could be Monteverdi revised any of its music, though the text

13 13
did not change much). As for Il ritorno d’Ulisse in Odyssey (XIII–XXIII), Le nozze d’Enea con Lavinia that
patria, the impetus appears to have come from its on Virgil’s Aeneid, and L’incoronazione di Poppea emo
librettist, the Venetian nobleman Giacomo Badoaro, mostly on the Roman historian Tacitus. These to m
who claimed in an open letter to the composer sources somewhat stand apart from other Venetian simp
that he wanted to tempt him out of retirement so operas of the period that draw on classical myth, veris
that Venetian audiences could understand how Renaissance epic (Ariosto and Tasso) or pastoral. oper
real emotions might be represented on the musical But while myth, epic and pastoral are always open disp
stage, rather than the faded imitations produced by to symbolic and allegorical interpretation – which is E
other contemporary composers. their point – Monteverdi and his librettists seem to whe
Monteverdi rose to the challenge, and with play closer to home. decl
significant success, it seems: Il ritorno d’Ulisse The issue appears to hinge on the involvement resp
in patria was performed at least ten times during of the Venetian Accademia degli Incogniti, a to m
its first season, then taken on tour to Bologna by libertine group of Venetian noblemen who were shift
Ferrari and Manelli, then revived in Venice the next also fiercely republican in their political orientation poin
year. For the 1641/42 season Monteverdi also (as was Venice itself). As we find in other Incogniti- migh
composed Le nozze d’Enea con Lavinia (the music derived operas from the period, the representation sing
is now lost), and for 1642/43 the wholly astonishing on stage of good Greeks, good or bad (depending be in
L’incoronazione di Poppea. on your point of view) Trojans and bad Romans an e
As is typical for Venetian opera, the surviving clearly had strong political resonances, not least in m
sources for Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria are given modern Venice’s own deeply problematic for ‘s
somewhat problematic. Some librettos divide the relationship with Rome and the Papacy. In the wou
opera into five acts rather than three, and a version case of Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria the descent P
survives with a different prologue (for which we of Penelope’s ‘court’ into the depravities of wan
have no music). The single musical score that we unwelcome suitors and their parasites carries a spee
have was copied probably in the 1650s, and it strong message: our hero, Ulysses, requires oper
somehow reached Vienna (where it now survives) only a modicum of divine intervention in order sing
a couple of decades later. Some music is missing to restore order to so corrupt a political world. certa
(for example a ballo in Act 2 as the suitors woo serv
Penelope) and might plausibly be borrowed from Musical morals inca
other sources. sens
Opera was almost by definition, and in almost excu
Greece, Rome… Venice any period, likely to be morally suspect – not just The
because of its subject matter but also because not l
Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria is based on Homer’s of its use of music. The genre’s supporters claim the l

that music penetrates dramatic situations and the deities, including the highly virtuoso writing
emotional and psychological depths unavailable for Minerva and Giunone. Befitting his station,
to mere speech. Its detractors – if they do not Ulisse tends to adopt a more restrained musical
simply dismiss opera on the grounds of its lack of language – even at his joyful reunion with his son
verisimilitude – claim that this defence is pure tosh: Telemaco – though he is not averse to singing when
opera is frivolous and hinges solely on a vapid the moment seems right. As for the suitors and the
display of vocal virtuosity. parasite Iro, their penchant for song, rather than
Early court opera had established principles sung speech, tends to identify them as somewhat
whereby characters would deliver their lines in a less than noble in terms of character and actions.
declamatory style (which we now call recitative),
responsive more to the demands of the text than Envoicing Penelope
to music per se. This declamatory style could then
shift into more lyrical, songlike moments at specific Penelope, however, is clearly problematic. On
points in the action, either where an actual song the one hand, Venetian audiences prized female
might be justified on stage (such as Orpheus’ singers and their seductive voices. On the other,
singing to the powers of Hades) or where one could a noble female character who ‘sings’ too readily,
be inserted by virtue of convention (for example and too tunefully, will necessarily enter dangerous
an end-of-act chorus). The distinction was clear terrain: can we trust her virtue or does it come too
in musical terms, and also in poetic ones: texts easy? We first encounter Penelope right at the
for ‘songs’ – we might start to call them ‘arias’ – beginning of Act 1, bemoaning Ulysses’ absence
would be in regular stanzas, metre and rhyme. in ways typical of a lamenting woman, with clear
Public opera forced a shift in priorities – who echoes of the Lamento d’Arianna, the only music to
wants to pay to hear an opera containing just sung survive from Monteverdi’s 1608 opera (revived, as
speech? – and therefore brought to the surface we have seen, in Venice). While her recitative plaint
opera’s fundamental dilemma: why should people is musically eloquent, she has little to sing about.
sing? Of course, singing is not inappropriate for As the opera progresses, Penelope’s servants,
certain types of character – gods, shepherds, and then her suitors, in effect besiege her with
serving maids – or situations (seduction, song, surrounding her with the seductive triple-time
incantation, sleep scenes and so on), and any arias that were becoming so prevalent in Venetian
sensible opera libretto would introduce such opera. She sternly resists at every turn; indeed,
excuses for song at every available opportunity. her musical language becomes increasingly arid
The pattern is clear in Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, as she descends into emotional paralysis. Only
not least in the handling of the shepherd Eumete, towards the end of Act 3, as she starts to believe
the lower-class lovers Melanto and Eurimaco and that the stranger in front of her is indeed her long-

15 15
lost husband, does she start to regain her voice
and then allow it to bloom in a glorious moment
of release that is all the more powerful precisely
because Penelope has ‘sung’ so little up to this
point. She can love – and therefore sing – again,
and few will condemn her for it.

Tim Carter is David G. Frey Distinguished Professor

of Music at the University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill and has worked extensively on music
in late Renaissance and early Baroque Italy; he is
the author of Monteverdi’s Musical Theatre and
Understanding Italian Opera and has also published
books on Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and on
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

Die Heimkehr des Odysseus Diese Einspielung von Il ritorno d’Ulisse entstand Imm
im September 2017 in Breslau als Höhepunkt emp
John Eliot Gardiner einer siebenmonatigen Entdeckungsfahrt Cap
durch Monteverdis drei noch erhaltene Opern. zum
Anlässlich seines 450. Geburtstags stellten wir für nich
33 Aufführungen in acht europäischen Ländern küns
eine gut eingespielte Truppe aus Sängern und – un
Instrumentalisten zusammen und beschlossen Mon
den Zyklus in Chicago und New York. Monteverdi Büh
wäre wohl ganz schön erstaunt gewesen, allem
hätte er erfahren, dass es seinen mittlerweile die „
berühmten Opern gelingt, 374 Jahre nach seinem ausd
Tod schätzungsweise siebzigtausend Zuhörer Giac
anzulocken (und darin sind noch keine der anderen Uliss
Aufführungen im Rest der Welt im Jubiläumsjahr Acca
2017 mitgezählt!). Wurde seine Musik noch vor gar n
fünfzig Jahren kaum eines Blickes gewürdigt, die s
werden seine Opern heute relativ häufig inszeniert, ware
auch wenn lediglich L’incoronazione di Poppea Brief
es in den Mainstream-Opernkanon geschafft hat. die T
Paradoxerweise können wir nicht mal bei den drei Stad
erhaltenen Stücken davon ausgehen, hier den Gefü
Gipfel seines Schaffens vor uns zu haben, da über zwis
die Jahrhunderte so viel verloren ging. Wenn man ausm
Zeitzeugen glaubt, müssen wohl seine Arianna Vers
(1608) und Le nozze d’Enea con Lavinia (1641) als Erzä
schmerzlichste Verluste gelten. Nichtsdestotrotz sind ihren
aber auch jene Werke, die überdauert haben, von S
fesselnder Dramatik, wahrhaftiger Menschlichkeit ganz
und umwerfend schöner Musik geprägt. die i
Was veranlasste Monteverdi wohl, in seinem 74. für m
Lebensjahr aus dem Opern-Ruhestand zu treten und Mus
– in einem letzten, großen Kreativitätsschub – das erstm
neue Genre noch einmal so fruchtbar zu bereichern? sich

Immerhin hatte er gerade die Priesterweihe den berühmteren Orfeo und Poppea steht, doch ich
empfangen; als vielbeschäftigtem Maestro di glaube, dass er uns alle, die wir an der gesamten
Cappella di San Marco blieb ihm wenig Freiraum Monteverdi-Trilogie mitwirkten, am stärksten
zum einträglichen Nebenerwerb. Konnte er vielleicht überzeugte und bewegte. Die Uraufführung des
nicht widerstehen, als sich die Möglichkeit bot, sein Ulisse war 1640 ein durchschlagender Erfolg:
künstlerisches Glaubensbekenntnis einem breiteren Nach mindestens zehn Aufführungen vor vollem
– und zudem zahlenden – Publikum zu verkünden? Haus in Venedig folgten Gastspiele in Bologna und
Monteverdi war der Ansicht, dass Musik erst auf der die Wiederaufnahme in Venedig im Folgejahr. Der
Bühne ihre größtmögliche Wirkung entfalten und vor Schlüssel zum damaligen wie heutigen Erfolg liegt
allem durch den zeitlichen und räumlichen Rahmen darin, wie gewandt und geschmeidig Monteverdi die
die „Gefühle bewegen“ könne, wie er es selbst Dinge musikalisch angeht und erörtert, wie geschickt
ausdrückte [„muovere gli affetti“]. Und hier kommt er den plötzlichen Stimmungsumschwüngen
Giacomo Badoaro ins Spiel. Der Librettist des und Wendungen in Badoaros Textvorlage folgt
Ulisse war führendes Mitglied der venezianischen und nahezu unmerklich gleitend zwischen
Accademia degli Incogniti, welche bekanntermaßen deklamierenden und eher liedhaft-lyrischen
gar nicht begeistert war von der Qualität der Opern, Abschnitten wechselt. Im gleichen Atemzug
die seit Eröffnung der Theater 1637 entstanden schafft er starke Kontraste und ein dynamisches
waren. Badoaro nahm sich in einem schmeichelnden Wechselspiel zwischen den Figuren – zwischen
Brief an Monteverdi selbst der Sache an „um Göttern und Helden ebenso wie den Vertretern
die Tugend Eurer Ehren anzustacheln und dieser der niederen Ständen, seien sie nun rechtschaffen
Stadt [Venedig] klarzumachen, dass, wenn es um oder zwielichtig. Innerhalb der übergreifenden
Gefühlshitze geht, Ihr den großen Unterschied musikalischen Anlage erzeugt er herzzerreißende
zwischen einer echten und einer gemalten Sonne Spannung: Wie lang kann die untröstliche Penelope
ausmacht.“ Genügte das schon, Monteverdi in den drei Freiern und den geflüsterten Einwänden
Versuchung zu führen? Oder lag dies an Homers ihrer Zofe Melantho widerstehen? Monteverdi
Erzählung von Odysseus’ Heimkehr nach Ithaka mit zeigt uns, dass die harte Schale des Leugnens, die
ihren zeitlosen Themen von Treue, Reue und Lust? sich Penelope zum Selbstschutz zugelegt hat, ihr
Seit ich 21 Jahre alt war, stand Il ritorno d’Ulisse den Blick darauf versperrt, dass der einzige, der
ganz oben auf meinem Wunschzettel jener Werke, Odysseus’ Bogen spannen und ihr damit die Freier
die ich einmal dirigieren wollte. Das Werk verkörperte vom Hals schaffen kann, jener Mann ist, der vor ihr
für mich all den exotischen Reiz der italienischen steht: ihr zurückgekehrter Gatte.
Musik des frühen siebzehnten Jahrhunderts. Bei der Aus Monteverdis eigener Hand ist keine Partitur
erstmaligen Aufführung des Ulisse 2017 bestätigte des Ulisse erhalten. Lediglich eine Abschrift, die
sich mir dann auch, wie sehr er auf Augenhöhe mit ein Jahrzehnt nach dem Tod des Komponisten

19 19
entstand, wurde 1881 in Wien entdeckt und steht klaren Unterschiede in Form und Tonsprache und Zykl
seit 2006 im Faksimile zur Verfügung. Dieser trotz der 33 Jahre, die zwischen Ulisse und seiner Ope
Partiturabschrift fehlen die Instrumentalstimmen ersten Oper L’Orfeo liegen, ist die Spurenlage ein b
sowie einige Stellen in der Musik; zudem weicht sie eindeutig; Monteverdi hält in beiden Stücken an Inde
in einer Reihe wesentlicher Punkte von den neun seinen Idealen der Textvertonung fest: Nachahmen ums
erhaltenen Librettoabschriften ab, von denen nur („imitare“) und Vertreten („rappresentare“). So tiefg
eine in Zusammenhang mit der Partitur entstanden konnten wir auch für den Chor der Najaden (1. Akt, Mus
zu sein scheint. Aus diesen können wir aber 6. Szene), als sie Odysseus’ Hab und Gut vom Ufer die s
rückschließen, wo Monteverdi Badoaros Textvorlage retten, ein dreistimmiges balletto finden, das wie so v
beschnitt und umstellte, damit sich eine schlüssigere angegossen passt: ‚De la bellezza le dovute lodi‘ jedo
Dramaturgie ergibt. Baodaro räumte später aus seinen Scherzi musicali (1607). Für den ballo Ged
taktvollerweise ein: „Nachdem ich die Oper nun greco im zweiten Akt (6. Szene) – hier steigern die durc
zehnmal gesehen habe, kann ich … mit Nachdruck Freier ihr Werbebemühen um Penelope noch einmal Libre
bestätigen, dass mein Odysseus Euer Ehren mehr – bedienten wir uns an drei Stellen in Monteverdis mit S
verdankt als der echte Odysseus der unsterblich Chorballett Tirsi e Clori von 1615 (vermutlich sein dies
reizenden Minerva.“ Ohne möglichen Bezug auf eine erstes Stück mit theatralischen Elementen, das des
„letzte“ oder „originale“ Fassung des Ulisse sollte in Venedig entstand; vier Jahre später wurde es inde
jeder Aufführende zuallererst die erhaltenen Quellen in seinem 7. Madrigalbuch veröffentlicht). Und ausr
sichten, um offensichtliche Unstimmigkeiten und schließlich konnten wir auch noch kurze, gequält mitfü
Kopistenfehler zu beseitigen.* Monteverdis letzte nagende entrate aus seinem Ballo delle ingrate man
beide Opern kristallisierten nicht als unveränderliche (entstanden 1608, aber erst zwei Jahre vor gleic
„Werke“ mit einem festen Text aus, sondern Uraufführung des Ulisse veröffentlicht) unterbringen: erfäh
waren als stoffwechselnde Lebewesen ständigen während die Freier im stummen Spiel beim Spannen E
Erweiterungen, Kürzungen, Transpositionen und von Odysseus’ Bogen scheitern (2. Akt, 12. Szene) Mon
Umarbeitungen unterworfen. Jeder Versuch, sie und als launisches Fragment zur Ankündigung von und
in der heutigen Zeit wiederzubeleben, muss sich Eurykleias Auftritt im dritten Akt (8. Szene). alle,
unweigerlich eine neue Lösung einfallen lassen. Alle übrigen Entscheidungen bezüglich Text
Als es darum ging, die Lücken in der Wiener Aufführungsmaterial und -praxis erwuchsen aus Gag
Partiturabschrift zu schließen, an denen keine unserem ursprünglichen Vorsatz, die Trilogie bem
Musik überliefert ist, schien auf der Hand zu nicht in Proszeniumstheatern mit aufwändiger mod
liegen, sich eher bei Monteverdis eigenen Stücken Bühnentechnik, Bühnenbild und Requisiten und
aus früheren Schaffensperioden zu bedienen aufzuführen, sondern in Konzertsälen (außer und
als in zeitlich näherer Musik seiner Schüler oder im Teatro La Fenice in Venedig, auf dessen Spra
Komponistenkollegen zu suchen. Denn trotz der vorgeschobener Bühnenrampe wir zwei volle an, d

Zyklen aufführten). Wir wollten nicht nur die gesungenen Italienisch nahezubringen – mit seinen
Opernfans erreichen, sondern zielten weiter auf perkussiv und ausdrucksstark herausgeschleuderten
ein breiteres und jüngeres Monteverdi-Publikum. Konsonanten als Kontrapunkt zum sanft
Indem wir seine Trilogie abgespeckt, dafür aber fließenden Legato der Vokale. Und da denke
umso lebendiger inszenierten, wollten wir die man nicht nur an Doppelkonsonanten, sondern
tiefgreifende und explosive Kraft dieser großartigen auch an Kommasetzung, agogische Betonungen,
Musikdramen vermitteln, die emotionale Tiefe, Wortwiederholungen und Ausrufe! Erst wenn die
die sie ausloten, und zeigen, warum sie sich Sängerdarsteller diese Technik wirklich aus dem
so verblüffend modern „anfühlen“, ohne dabei Effeff beherrschen (und nicht, wie das die Krankheit
jedoch jene Innigkeit zu opfern, die hier Form und vieler Opernsänger ist, ins grässliche „singerese“
Gedankenführung innewohnt. Wir wissen (diesmal verfallen – so nennen wir es im Englischen, wenn
durch Michelangelo Torcigliani, einen weiteren seiner jemand seine heimischen Aussprachemuster der
Librettisten), dass Monteverdi stets nach Libretti gesungene Sprache überstülpt), nur dann also
mit Stimmungswechseln Ausschau hielt, „denn können sie jenen Gänsehauteffekt beim Zuhörer
diese ermöglichen ihm, mit der ganzen Bandbreite erzeugen, wenn dieser die Worte vernimmt. Und
des Pathos zu zeigen, was in seiner Kunst steckt, außerdem kommt dies der Ausdrucksvielfalt in
indem er die Noten so an den Worten und Gefühlen Monteverdis Textvertonung zugute sowie seiner
ausrichtet, das der Sänger lacht, weint, wütend und geschickten Art, Sprachbetonungen nachzuahmen.
mitfühlend wird und überhaupt alles tut, um was Indem man einen nahenden Konsonanten leicht
man ihn bittet, während der Zuhörer derweil mit vorwegnimmt und den folgenden Vokal um
gleicher Wucht die Fülle und Kraft dieser Regungen eine Winzigkeit verzögert, spiegelt man den
erfährt.“ Gedankengang der Erzählung. Das ist für mich
Einen Großteil der Probenzeit nutzten wir, vergleichbar mit der Art und Weise, wie Monteverdi
Monteverdis geistreiche Verschmelzung von Text Rhythmus und Stimmführung behandelt. In seinen
und Musik zu erkunden und sicherzustellen, dass Opern lässt Monteverdi das Metrum ständig
alle, Sänger wie Instrumentalisten, völlig mit dem zwischen geraden und ungeraden Takten über
Text vertraut sind. Den Geboten von Marco da einem zugrundeliegenden tactus (einem regelmäßig
Gagliano, ebenfalls Opernkomponist, folgend, durchgehenden Schlag) wechseln. Hier entsteht
bemühten wir uns, „die Silben wie ein Steinmetz zu der rhythmische Nervenkitzel. Hinzu kommt
modellieren, damit die Worte gut zu verstehen sind“ die harmonische Spannung, die er zwischen
und – bei linguistisch einwandfreier Aussprache den Gesangslinien und der Generalbassstütze
und Tonfall – sie sinnlich auszukosten. Unser aufbaut. Letztere schreitet üblicherweise in
Sprachcoach Matteo Dalle Fratte strengte sich sehr einem regelmäßigen harmonischen Rhythmus
an, der Besetzung die faszinierende Schönheit des oder Puls voran, lässt jedoch an Schlüsselstellen

21 21
ausdrucksstarke Dissonanzen sprießen, wenn bei Monteverdi zwischen Gesangslinie und zu u
Monteverdi meint, dass beim Zusammenprall der Generalbass], welche den Gefühlsaufruhr ausdrückt. Entw
beiden sich ergänzenden Stimmen die Funken Je stärker die Verse drohen zusammenzubrechen, sich
fliegen sollen. desto gequälter und gefühlsbetonter wird der in se
Stellen Sie sich vor, wie ich mich damals Ausdruck. Wirklich einstürzen dürfen sie jedoch nie, zwe
freute, als ich herausfand, dass Sir Peter Hall, wie auch der Jazzmusiker keinen Schlag verpassen ich a
der mittlerweile verstorbene Bühnenregisseur, oder ‚rausfliegen‘ darf. Der Darsteller muss das bin i
auf eine erstaunlich ähnliche Technik hinwies, Risiko des rhythmischen Zerfalls eingehen, sich wen
die Shakespeare in seinen großen Tragödien und ihm aber nicht hingeben. Was beim Publikum im G
späten Stücken einsetzte, welche genau zu jener ankommt, ist so immer unerwartet, gewagt und der
Zeit entstanden, als Monteverdi sich anschickte, unvorhersehbar“ [Exposed by the Mask]. John wie
Opernkomponist zu werden. Hall meint jene Berger drückt es ähnlich aus: „Die Art, wie Sänger mit ü
„absolut wunderbare Freiheit der Versdichtung. mit der Linearität der Zeit spielen und ihr trotzen, forci
[In Das Wintermärchen/The Winter’s Tale] drücken hat etwas davon, wie Akrobaten und Jongleure mit F
sich Leontes’ verworrene Gefühle und sein der Schwerkraft umgehen ... Das Tempo, der Takt, wied
Verfolgungswahn treffsicher in seinen klumpig- die Wiederholungen, die Loops eines Liedes bilden statt
regelwidrigen Rhythmen und Fehlbetonungen einen Schutz vor der linear verlaufenden Zeit: eine zu v
aus. Doch diese Abweichungen von der Regel Zuflucht, wo Zukunft, Vergangenheit und Gegenwart die I
können erst dann emotionalen Sinn ergeben und sich trösten, provozieren, begeistern oder in eine müs
das Publikum berühren, wenn dem Schauspieler ironische Distanz zueinander rücken können.“ (Ein Dars
klar ist, welche Regelhaftigkeit ihnen eigentlich Geschenk für Rosa, übers. von Hans Jürgen Balmes) bess
unterliegt. Er muss in Kreuzrhythmen schwelgen, auf Im Ulisse können wir hören, wie Monteverdis forts
Regelwidrigkeiten herumreiten und die Unebenheiten gekonnte Übergänge zwischen normaler Das
in der glatten Oberfläche für seine Gemütszwecke „gesungener Sprache“ (Rezitativ), reinem Gesang Ges
nutzen.“ So weit, so eigentümlich vertraut. Hall (Arie) und einer Mischung aus beiden (Arioso) dazu sym
verglich das Darbieten der reifen Shakespeare’schen dienen, Wesen und Gemütszustand der Figuren das
Dichtung mit den Herausforderungen, die sich einem klarer herauszuarbeiten. In der Praxis muss sich verfo
guten Jazzspieler stellen – auch wenn das, wie ich jeder Aufführende ständig des Gedankengangs und Kon
finde, genauso für Sänger oder Continuospieler dessen Entwicklungsrichtung bewusst sein und – und
gilt, die den Notentext von Monteverdis Opern angesichts von Monteverdis wichtiger Abgrenzung vene
zu Musik machen: „Man muss im Takt bleiben, zwischen Vermitteln (Diegesis) und Nachahmen ware
den Rhythmus immer spüren. Es ist jedoch (Mimesis) – des Einflusses, den dies auf den Gang um e
die Spannung zwischen dieser Regelhaftigkeit der Handlung sowie die emotionale Botschaft und Bloc
und Unregelmäßigkeiten in der Sprache [oder den „Ton“ jedes Monologs oder Gesprächs hat. Hier die I

zu unterscheiden, war völlig neu für die damalige zu beeinträchtigen. Ebenso unterfütterten wir jene
Entwicklung des Musiktheaters und entwickelte Stellen, an denen Monteverdi in seinem „erregten
sich parallel zu jenen Methoden, die Shakespeare Stil“ (stile concitato) in diesen typisch kriegerischen
in seinem Spätwerk erprobte. Als Hamlet in der Ton verfällt, mit kräftigen Streicherstößen, um so
zweiten Szene des zweiten Aktes sagt „Jetzt bin Verachtung, Zorn oder Kampfeslust zu vermitteln.
ich allein. O welch ein Schurk’ und niedrer Sklav’ Entsprechend verfährt er auch in seinen Madrigali
bin ich!“, ist er ja ganz offensichtlich nicht allein. Er guerrieri, et amorosi (1638) und schreibt es vor für
wendet sich vielmehr an das lärmende Publikum Odysseus’ Ringkampf mit Iro oder die sinfonia da
im Globe Theatre. Entscheidend ist hier, wie nun guerra, die den zweiten Akt beschließt. An anderen
der Anschein von Innigkeit erzeugt werden kann, Stellen fügten wir immer mal wieder improvisierte
wie man dieses rohe, höchstpersönliche Gefühl Stimmen ein, um den Unterschied zwischen Göttern
mit überwältigender Kraft offenlegt, aber ohne zu und Menschen herauszustellen oder zwischen
forcieren. der harmlosen Hirtenwelt und der beklemmenden
Für unsere Aufführungen entschieden wir uns, Hofgesellschaft um Penelope.**
wieder Marco da Gaglianos Anweisungen zu folgen Diese Gegenüberstellung zweier gegensätzlicher
statt die Instrumentalisten in den Orchestergraben Welten ähnelt auf verblüffende Weise jener in
zu verbannen: „Es sei zuallererst empfohlen, dass Shakespeares Wie es euch gefällt; dort steht der
die Instrumente, die die Solosänger begleiten Wald für die Freiheit, ungekünstelte Güte und ein
müssen, so aufgestellt werden, dass sie den Leben im Einklang mit der Natur, während der
Darstellern ins Gesicht sehen, damit sie durch das Hof mit all seinen Schmeichlern und Heuchlern
bessere gegenseitige Wahrnehmen gemeinsam für alles Verdorbene und Trügerische steht.
fortschreiten“. Das bietet zwei weitere Vorteile: Können wir Monteverdis Ulisse also eine Art
Das Publikum hat so den „Maschinenraum“ des Shakespear’scher „Anti-Komödie“ betrachten?
Geschehens voll im Blick; mit den Instrumentalisten Schließlich gipfelt das Stück nach Irren und
symmetrisch auf zwei Halbkreise verteilt kann es Wirren, nach Verwechseln und Enträtseln in der
das Zusammenspiel aller Beteiligten an jeder Stelle Heimkehr ins Ehebett, wo nun zu guter Letzt die
verfolgen. Und da wir in mittelgroßen bis großen natürliche Ordnung der Dinge wiederhergestellt
Konzertsälen auftraten und so nicht durch das karge ist. Keine andere Handlung jener Zeit nimmt
und enge instrumentarium der gewinnorientierten einen solchen Verlauf – außer Shakespeares
venezianischen Theater der 1640er Jahre beschränkt Tragikomödien. Doch die Gemeinsamkeiten mit
waren, entschlossen wir uns, die Continuogruppe dem großen „Barden“ reichen noch wesentlich
um eine Lira da Gamba, eine Harfe sowie je zwei weiter. Bei seiner Darstellung des Odysseus (und
Blockflöten und Zinken zu verstärken, ohne dadurch mehr noch der Penelope) sorgt sich Monteverdi
die Intimität der Dialoge oder die Wortwiedergabe sehr um die Innenwelt, ganz wie Shakespeare in

23 23
Hamlet und King Lear. Dramatiker und Komponist: * In diesem Zusammenhang danke ich James ‚Ste
Beide untersuchen sie vielschichtiges Denken und Halliday und Paolo Zanzu für ihre Hilfe.
Fühlen, das über Worte und Taten hinausreicht. Tim
Il ritorno d’Ulisse, Monteverdis vorvorletzte ** Für ihre wertvolle Stegreifunterstützung danke
Oper, ist ein weiterer Schritt in einem Leben, das ich Paolo Zanzu, Antonio Greco, Kati Debretzeni,
Musik veränderte: vom geschickten Kunstgriff, Rachel Beckett, Jamie Savan und James Halliday.
die Sphärenharmonie nachzuzeichnen, zu einer
dramatisierten Ausdrucksform, die in menschlichen
Wahrheiten und Gefühlen wurzelt. Dies lief auf einen
grundsätzlichen Richtungswechsel hinaus: von einer
Musiksprache, die sich vorrangig in metaphysischen
Bekräftigungen äußerte, hin zu einer, die eine ganze
Welt des Elends, der Verdorbenheit, doch auch
der erlösenden Liebe widerspiegeln kann. Und es
fällt genau zusammen mit einer jener wilden Zeiten
in der Geschichte der Malerei, als Künstler wie
Velázquez, Rembrandt oder Artemesia Gentileschi
auf der Höhe ihrer Kraft ihrer Kunst freien Lauf ließen
und sich ähnlich ungebunden über heilige Bräuche
Gibt es auch nur eine andere Oper, die ihren
Höhepunkt in einem Duett der beiden Hauptfiguren
findet, die hier erstmals gemeinsam singen? Sie
haben sich seit zwanzig Jahren nicht gesprochen. Er
war als vermisst gemeldet und kehrt nun heim. Sie
blieb derweil unerschütterlich treu, und es bricht erst
dann mit Gesang aus ihr heraus, als zwingend klar
wird, dass dies ihr Gatte ist. Doch jetzt teilen sie die
Sprache der Liebe in bewegender, lebensbejahender

‚Sterblich bin ich‘ Claudio Monteverdi empfand vielleicht eine gewisse
Resonanzerfahrung mit diesem Eröffnungsvers
Tim Carter des Prologs zu Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (1640),
dort vorgetragen von der allegorischen Figur der
menschlichen Gebrechlichkeit (L’humana fragilità).
Mit 73 Jahren unternahm er den bemerkenswerten
Schritt zurück auf die Opernbühne. Sein langes
Schaffen des Komponierens für die Bühne hatte
einst begonnen, als er noch als Musiker am
Hof des Herzogs Vincenzo Gonzaga in Mantua
angestellt war. Dort war er an allen großen
Bühnengattungen der Spätrenaissance beteiligt,
darunter Stücke mit eingebauten intermedi,
gesungenen und getanzten balli und einer neuen
Florentiner Erfindung: der favola in musica – heute
nennen wir es Oper. Für letztere ist sein L’Orfeo
von 1607, ein rundum bemerkenswertes Werk,
das früheste Beispiel der Gattung, das einen Platz
im Repertoire fand. Ihm ließ er 1608 seine Arianna
folgen, welche seinerzeit großes Aufsehen erregte,
deren Musik jedoch verloren ging – mit Ausnahme
des berühmten Lamento der Arianna.
Monteverdis Umzug nach Venedig zwang
ihn 1613 notwendigerweise, in seiner Rolle als
Kapellmeister des Markusdoms sein Augenmerk
verstärkt auf Kirchenmusik und bürgerliche
Festmusiken zu richten. Er schrieb aber weiterhin
auch weltliche Werke, sogar für die Bühne, und
zwar als Reaktion auf Aufträge aus Mantua und
von anderen norditalienischen Höfen (u. a. Parma)
sowie aus unmittelbarer Nähe von venezianischen
Adligen; und in den 1630er Jahren knüpfte er
Verbindungen mit den Habsburgern in Wien.
Niemand hätte jedoch damit gerechnet, dass er so

25 25
spät in seiner Karriere noch einmal zum Schreiben Spielzeit 1646/47 kamen 33 neue Werke und sechs Mon
abendfüllender Opern zurückfindet. Warum er es Wiederaufnahmen auf die dortigen Bühnen.
tat und wie es ihm dabei gelang, sich neuen und Die neue öffentliche Oper war ganz klar ein Mon
rasch wandelnden Musikstilen anzupassen, sind kommerzieller Erfolg. Venedig war ein gemachtes erste
Fragen, die einiger Erörterung bedürfen. Feld, nicht nur durch das Publikum seiner eigenen in Ve
Bürger, sondern auch durch die Touristen, die Karn
Oper in Venedig damals wie heute die Stadt aufsuchten, um ihre Thea
künstlerischen und architektonische Freuden zu San
Im ersten Drittel des siebzehnten Jahrhunderts genießen – sowie ihre sinnlichen. Als der Engländer eine
blickt die Oper nur auf eine vereinzelte Thomas Coryate 1608 Venedig besuchte, lenkte wah
Entwicklungsgeschichte an den norditalienischen er seine Aufmerksamkeit vor allem auf die Musik, auffü
Höfen und in Rom zurück. Opern waren im Grunde die man dort in den Kirchen und Straßen sowie wie A
Gelegenheitswerke für einzelne Aufführungen oder aus feinfühligen Händen und trillernden Kehlen das
besondere Festivitäten. Sie waren auch nicht immer verführerischer Freudenmädchen hören konnte. beka
sonderlich populär, da das Hofpublikum keinen Da sich eine Opernspielzeit praktisch mit der über
großen Wert darauf legte, für lange Strecken untätig Karnevalszeit deckte (offiziell vom Tag nach geän
sitzen zu bleiben und zuzuschauen, wie sich ein Weihnachten bis zum Beginn der Fastenzeit), neigte so s
Musikdrama auf der Bühne entfaltet. Es entstand man dazu, die lustbetonten Freuden zu betonen, dem
nur eine geringe Anzahl an Opern – und die Anzahl welche man auf ihre Thematik und auch ihre geko
der Wiederaufnahmen war noch geringer –; man Darsteller zurückführte. Brief
kann also kaum von einer ungebrochenen Tradition Das so entstandene Operngewerbe in Venedig dies
sprechen. beruhte auf einem komplexen Wechselspiel Vene
1637 öffnete das Teatro San Cassiano dem zwischen Theaterbesitzern, Impresarios sowie mus
zahlenden Publikum in Venedig seine Türen. „selbstständigen“ Dichtern, Komponisten, Sängern, Geg
Diese Initiative scheint auf zwei dichtende Instrumentalisten, Tanzmeistern, Bühnen- und zeitg
Musiker zurückzugehen, Benedetto Ferrari and Kostümbildnern und so weiter und so fort. Man M
Francesco Manelli, die eine Truppe nach dem konnte wohl hoffen, Geld in diesem Unternehmen woh
Vorbild der Darsteller in der Commedia dell’arte zu machen, auch wenn der Erfolg auf einem patri
bildeten, welche zum regelmäßigen Inventar der Glücksspiel beruhte, das man gewinnen oder zehn
Theater in Venedig und andernorts gehörte. Aus verlieren konnte. Man weiß nicht, ob Monteverdi und
irgendeinem Grund zündete die Idee: Fünf neue glaubte, aus diesem Vorhaben Profit schlagen und
Opern erschienen in den folgenden drei Spielzeiten, zu können. Aber als angesehenster Musiker Für d
und bis 1641 wurden drei weitere Opernhäuser in Venedigs zu der Zeit konnte er sich der Sache Le n
der Stadt in Betrieb genommen. Bis zum Ende der nicht entziehen. erha

Monteverdi steht (wieder) im Bühnenmittelpunkt erstaunliche L’incoronazione di Poppea.
Wie es für venezianische Oper typisch ist,
Monteverdi ging vorsichtig vor, wartete in den stellen uns die überlieferten Quellen von Il ritorno
ersten drei Spielzeiten der öffentlichen Oper d’Ulisse in patria vor gewisse Probleme. Manche
in Venedig noch auf seine Chance. Für die Libretti unterteilen die Oper statt in drei in fünf
Karnevalszeit 1640–41 spielte er sogar zwei Akte, und es ist eine Fassung mit abweichendem
Theater gegeneinander aus, indem er am Teatro Prolog erhalten, zu dem keine Musik überliefert
San Moisè seine Arianna wiederaufnahm und ist. Der einzige erhaltene Notentext ist eine
eine neue Oper, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, Partiturabschrift, wohl aus den 1650er Jahren, die
wahrscheinlich am Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo es einige Jahrzehnte später irgendwie nach Wien
aufführte. Man kann sich nur schwer vorstellen, schaffte (wo sie bis jetzt überlebt hat). An manchen
wie Arianna, nun mehr als dreißig Jahre alt, auf Stellen fehlt die Musik (zum Beispiel ein ballo im
das venezianische Publikum wirkte. (Es ist nicht zweiten Akt, als die Freier Penelope umwerben); es
bekannt, ob Monteverdi die Musik irgendwie ist durchaus vorstellbar, dass sie hier aus anderen
überarbeitet hat; der Text hat sich jedenfalls kaum Quellen entlehnt wurde.
geändert.) Was Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria betrifft,
so scheint der Anstoß von seinem Librettisten, Griechenland, Rom … Venedig
dem venezianischen Adligen Giacomo Badoaro,
gekommen zu sein, welcher in einem offenen Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria basiert auf Homers
Brief an den Komponisten gestand, dass er Odyssee (13. bis 23. Gesang), Le nozze d’Enea
diesen aus dem Ruhestand locken wollte, damit con Lavinia auf Vergils Aeneis, and L’incoronazione
Venedigs Publikum verstünde, wie wahre Gefühle di Poppea weitestgehend auf der römischen
musikalisch auf der Bühne dargestellt werden – im Geschichtsschreibung von Tacitus. Diese Quellen
Gegensatz zu den blassen Nachahmereien seitens stehen etwas im Abseits anderer venezianischer
zeitgenössischer Komponisten. Opern jener Zeit, die sich eher bei klassischen
Monteverdi stellte sich der Herausforderung – Mythen, Renaissance-Epen (Ariost oder Tasso)
wohl mit bedeutendem Erfolg: Il ritorno d’Ulisse in oder Hirtendichtung bedienen. Weil jedoch Mythos,
patria wurde in seiner ersten Spielzeit mindestens Epos und Pastorales immer für symbolische und
zehnmal aufgeführt, anschließend unter Ferrari allegorische Deutung offen sind – genau darum
und Manelli zum Gastspiel nach Bologna gebracht geht es ihnen ja –, scheinen Monteverdi und seine
und im Folgejahr in Venedig wiederaufgenommen. Librettisten in der eigenen Spielhälfte bleiben zu
Für die Spielzeit 1641/42 schrieb Monteverdi auch wollen.
Le nozze d’Enea con Lavinia (deren Musik nicht Das hängt wohl auch mit der Einflussnahme von
erhalten ist) und für 1642/43 die ganz und gar Venedigs Accademia degli Incogniti zusammen,

27 27
einer freigeistigen Gruppe venezianischer Adliger, Die frühe Hofoper hatte Grundregeln formuliert, Stel
die in ihrer politischen Ausrichtung für das nach denen die Rollen ihre Verse in einem zu s
Republikanische brannten (wie ja auch Venedig deklamatorischen Stil vortragen (heute nennen verh
selbst). Wie wir es ebenfalls in anderen der von wir dies Rezitativ), der eher den Anforderungen Wied
den Incogniti beeinflussten Opern jener Zeit sehen, des Textes als der Musik an sich folgt. Dieser (Tele
klang in der Darstellung guter Griechen, (je nach deklamatorische Stil konnte sodann an bestimmten nich
persönlichem Standpunkt) guter oder böser Troer Momenten der Handlung ins Lyrische, Liedhafte geko
und böser Römer auf der Bühne klar Politisches an, wechseln, wenn entweder ein echtes Lied auf Sch
nicht zuletzt aufgrund der zutiefst problematischen der Bühne gerechtfertigt schien (wie Orpheus’ Ges
Beziehungen zwischen dem modernen Venedig Gesang vor den Mächten der Unterwelt) oder dazu
und Rom mit seinem Papsttum. Im Fall von etwas Vergleichbares kraft Tradition eingefügt als w
Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria ist die Botschaft vom werden konnte (beispielsweise ein Schlusschor am
verderblichen Niedergang von Penelopes „Hof“ Aktende). In musikalischem und dichterischem Sinn Pen
mit seinen unliebsamen Verehrern und deren war der Unterschied klar: Der Text von „Gesängen“
Nutznießern klar: Unserem Helden Odysseus – langsam können wir sie „Arien“ nennen – hätte Pen
reicht ein Mindestmaß göttlicher Einmischung, regelmäßigen Strophenbau, Metrik und Reim. Eine
um die Ordnung in dieser so verdorbenen Die öffentliche Oper erzwang einen mit i
politischen Welt wiederherzustellen. Prioritätenwechsel – wer will schon viel Geld für wird
eine Oper ausgeben, in der man nur gesungene und
Moral in der Musik Sprache hört? – und brachte so das grundlegende gefä
Dilemma der Oper ans Tageslicht: Warum sollte vertr
Oper schien nahezu per definitionem und fast überhaupt irgendjemand singen? Bei bestimmten Ode
zu jeder Zeit moralisch fragwürdig, nicht nur Figuren – Göttern, Hirten, Dienstmägden – ist Pen
wegen ihrer Themen, sondern auch wegen liedartiger Gesang natürlich nicht unangebracht, sie O
ihres Musikgebrauchs. Fürsprecher der Gattung ebenso zu bestimmten Situationen (Verführungs-, klag
behaupten, Musik könne dramatische Momente Verzauberungs- oder Schlafszenen etc.), und Lam
sowie emotionale und psychologische Tiefen jedes gescheite Opernlibretto würde solche Mus
ausloten, die der bloßen Sprache unzugänglich Ausreden zum Gesang bei jeder sich bietenden (und
bleiben. Ihre Gegner – wenn sie die Oper nicht Gelegenheit einbauen. In Il ritorno d’Ulisse in Ist ih
bereits aufgrund ihrer fehlenden Wirklichkeitsnähe patria wird dieses Muster deutlich, nicht zuletzt so h
abtun – behaupten, diese Begründung sei reiner beim Umgang mit dem Hirten Eumaios (Eumete), I
Blödsinn: Oper sei albern und basiere einzig und dem „kleinbürgerlichen“ Liebespärchen Melantho tatsä
allein auf dem nichtssagenden Zurschaustellen (Melanto) und Eurymachos (Eurimaco) sowie mit G
stimmlicher Virtuosität. den Gottheiten, einschließlich der hochvirtuosen verlo

Stellen für Minerva und Juno (Giunone). Passend venezianischen Oper vorherrschten. Sie widersetzt
zu seinem Stand neigt Odysseus eher zu einer sich jedes Mal schroff. Ihre Musiksprache wird in
verhalteneren Tonsprache – sogar beim freudigen der Tat immerdürrer, je weiter sie in Gefühlsstarre
Wiedersehen mit seinem Sohn Telemach verfällt. Erst gegen Ende des dritten Akts, als sie
(Telemaco) –, wenn er auch dem Singen gegenüber allmählich glaubt, der Fremde vor ihr sei wirklich ihr
nicht abgeneigt ist, sobald der rechte Moment lange verlorener Gatte, erlangt sie so langsam ihre
gekommen scheint. Was die Freier und den Stimme wieder und lässt sie in einem wunderbaren
Schmarotzer Iro betrifft, so tendiert ihr Faible für Moment der Befreiung aufblühen, was umso
Gesang (im Gegensatz zu gesungener Sprache) stärker wirkt, gerade weil Penelope bis hierher so
dazu, sie in bezug auf Wesenszüge und Handeln wenig „gesungen“ hat. Sie kann wieder lieben –
als weniger edel auszuzeichnen. und daher singen. Wer kann es ihr verdenken?

Penelope eine Stimme geben Tim Carter ist „David G. Frey Distinguished
Professor of Music“ an der University of North
Penelope hingegen ist eindeutig ein Problemfall. Carolina in Chapel Hill und hat sich ausgiebig
Einerseits schätzte Venedigs Publikum Sängerinnen mit der italienischen Musik der Spätrenaissance
mit ihren verführerischen Stimmen. Andererseits und des Frühbarock beschäftigt; er ist Autor
wird eine edle weibliche Figur, die zu bereitwillig von Monteverdi’s Musical Theatre sowie von
und klangvoll „singt“, notwendigerweise Understanding Italian Opera und veröffentlichte
gefährliches Terrain betreten: Können wir darauf Bücher zu Mozarts Le nozze di Figaro und zu
vertrauen, dass dies ehrlichen Können entspringt? Oklahoma! von Rodgers und Hammerstein.
Oder fällt es ihr zu leicht? Zuerst begegnet uns
Penelope gleich zu Beginn des ersten Akts, als
sie Odysseus’ Fernbleiben ganz nach Art einer
klagenden Frau betrauert, worin deutlich das
Lamento d’Arianna nachklingt, das einzige Stück
Musik, das aus der Oper von 1608 erhalten blieb
(und wie gesagt in Venedig überarbeitet wurde).
Ist ihr Klagerezitativ auch musikalisch beredt,
so hat sie doch wenig, worüber sie singen kann.
Im Verlauf der Oper belagern Penelope
tatsächlich zuerst ihre Diener, dann ihre Verehrer
mit Gesang und umschmeicheln sie mit
verlockenden Arien im Dreiertakt, wie sie in der

29 29


Le retour d’Ulysse dans sa patrie Cet enregistrement d’Il ritorno d’Ulisse a été réalisé
à Wrocław en septembre 2017, à l’apogée de sept
John Eliot Gardiner mois d’exploration des trois opéras de Monteverdi
qui ont survécu. Pour marquer le 450e anniversaire
de sa naissance, nous avons réuni un ensemble
très soudé de chanteurs et d’instrumentistes et
donné 33 représentations dans huit pays européens,
avant de terminer notre cycle à Chicago et à New
York. Monteverdi aurait certainement été abasourdi
d’apprendre que la renommée dont jouissent
encore ses opéras 374 ans après sa mort serait
telle qu’ils toucheraient 70 000 auditeurs, selon les
estimations (et cela avant de compter aucune des
autres représentations commémoratives données
dans différentes régions du monde en 2017 !). Mais
alors qu’il y a cinquante ans seulement le public
connaissait à peine sa musique, aujourd’hui les
versions scéniques de ses opéras sont relativement
fréquentes, bien que seul L’incoronazione di Poppea
se soit jusqu’à présent imposé au répertoire des
opéras canoniques. Paradoxalement, on ne peut
même pas être sûr qu’avec ces trois survivants
nous ayons ce qu’il composa de meilleur, tant
d’œuvres s’étant perdues au fil des siècles. D’après
ce que l’on disait à l’époque, les pertes les plus
douloureuses seraient son Arianna (1608) et Le
nozze d’Enea con Lavinia (1641). Pourtant, celles
qui ont survécu sont toutes dramatiquement
captivantes, humainement véridiques et d’une
beauté musicale éblouissante.
Qu’est-ce qui persuada donc Monteverdi de
sortir de sa retraite de compositeur d’opéras dans
sa soixante-quatorzième année pour faire des

contributions aussi décisives au genre nouveau, italienne du début du XVIIe siècle. Le fait de diriger mort
dans une dernière grande explosion créatrice ? Ulisse pour la première fois en 2017 a confirmé Vien
Après tout, il venait de recevoir les saints ordres, pour moi sa stature et en faisait le digne pendant 2006
et, très occupé comme maestro di cappella de la des deux opéras plus célèbres, Orfeo et Poppea ; man
basilique Saint-Marc, il n’avait que peu de temps mais je crois que nous tous qui avons été mêlés à se d
libre pour se lancer aussi dans des entreprises la trilogie complète de Monteverdi l’avons trouvé sign
commerciales. Ne pouvait-il laisser passer le plus convaincant et le plus émouvant des trois. conn
l’occasion de prêcher son crédo esthétique à un Lors de sa création en 1640, Ulisse fut un succès référ
public payant et plus large ? Monteverdi croyait que retentissant : il fut donné au moins dix fois à Venise voir
la musique produit son plus grand effet quand elle devant des salles combles avant d’être emmené et de
est représentée sur scène, et que, lorsqu’elle est en tournée à Bologne, puis repris à Venise l’année une
définie dans le temps et l’espace, elle est le plus suivante. La clef de son succès aussi bien hier reco
à même de « mouvoir les passions humaines », qu’aujourd’hui tient à la fluidité du discours musical « aya
comme il disait lui-même. C’est ici que Giacomo de Monteverdi, à son habileté à s’ajuster aux caté
Badoaro entre en scène. Le librettiste d’Ulisse inflexions et aux climats très changeants du livret oblig
était un membre important de l’Accademia degli de Badoaro, et à glisser presque imperceptiblement par l
Incogniti vénitienne, dont on disait qu’elle n’était de la déclamation à des passages chantants « dé
guère impressionnée par la qualité des opéras qu’on plus lyriques. En même temps, il produit de forts se fie
donnait depuis que les premiers théâtres avaient contrastes et une interaction dynamique entre les réco
ouvert leurs portes en 1637. Badoaro prit sur lui personnages – dieux, héros et simples mortels les é
d’adresser une lettre flatteuse à Monteverdi, « pour (certains vertueux, d’autres vils). Au sein d’une Les
inciter les vertus de Votre Seigneurie à faire savoir structure musicale en arche, il crée un suspense qui pas
au peuple de Venise que, s’agissant des émotions prend au tripes – combien de temps l’inconsolable texte
fortes, il y a une grande différence entre une image Pénélope tiendra-t-elle face aux trois prétendants et été c
peinte du soleil et le soleil lui-même ». Fut-ce aux arguments murmurés par sa suivante Mélanto ? trans
assez pour le tenter, ou est-ce l’histoire homérique Monteverdi nous fait voir que la carapace de ress
du retour d’Ulysse à Ithaque, avec ses thème déni que Pénélope s’est formée pour se protéger une
intemporels de la fidélité, du remords et de l’empêche d’admettre que la seule personne L
la passion, qui l’attira ? capable de bander l’arc d’Ulysse et d’éloigner les dans
Il ritorno d’Ulisse était en tête de la liste d’œuvres prétendants est l’homme debout devant elle – son puis
que je souhaitais diriger depuis l’âge de vingt et propre époux de retour. que
un ans. L’œuvre incarnait pour moi tout ce qu’il y Il ne subsiste pas de manuscrit autographe de s
avait de plus exotique et séduisant dans la musique d’Ulisse. Une unique copie faite dix ans après la diffé

mort du compositeur a été découverte en 1881 à et les trente-trois ans qui séparent Ulisse de son
Vienne et n’est disponible en fac-similé que depuis premier opéra, L’Orfeo, les deux opéras révèlent une
2006. Cette partition, qui a des lignes instrumentales évidente cohérence dans la mise en musique du
manquantes et quelques blancs dans la musique, texte – qui témoigne de son attachement aux idéaux
se distingue aussi à un certain nombre d’égards de ce qu’il appelait « imitation » et « représentation ».
significatifs des neuf livrets manuscrits qu’on Ainsi, pour le chœur des naïades à l’acte 1 scène
connaît, dont un seul semble avoir été préparé en 6, lorsqu’elles sauvent ses biens et ses trésors
référence directe à la partition. Cela nous permet de sur le rivage, nous avons trouvé que le balletto à
voir les endroits où Monteverdi a choisi de couper trois voix de ses Scherzi musicali (1607), « De la
et de réarranger le texte de Badoaro pour lui donner bellezza le dovute lodi », convenait très bien. Pour le
une plus grande cohérence dramatique. Baodaro ballo greco de l’acte 2 scène 6, où les prétendants
reconnut par la suite avec beaucoup de tact que intensifient leur cour à Pénélope, nous sommes
« ayant vu l’opéra représenté dix fois, je peux retournés à trois sections de son ballet choral Tirsi
catégoriquement affirmer que mon Ulysse est plus e Clori (1615) (sans doute sa première œuvre semi-
obligé par Votre Seigneurie que le vrai Ulysse ne l’est théâtrale composée à Venise, et publiée quatre ans
par la toujours charmante Minerve ». Sans version plus tard dans son septième livre de madrigaux).
« définitive » ou « authentique » d’Ulisse à laquelle Enfin, nous avons trouvé la place pour une entrate
se fier, la première priorité pour tout interprète est de brève et angoissée de son Ballo delle ingrate (1608,
réconcilier les sources qui subsistent et de corriger mais publié deux ans seulement avant la création
les évidentes divergences et erreurs du copiste *. d’Ulisse) pour la pantomime des prétendants qui
Les deux derniers opéras de Monteverdi ne se sont tentent vainement de bander l’arc d’Ulysse à l’acte 2
pas cristallisés en « œuvres » immuables avec un scène 12, et un fragment fantasque pour annoncer
texte figé, mais, en tant qu’organismes vivants, ont l’entrée d’Euryclée à l’acte 3 scène 8.
été constamment soumis à des ajouts, coupures, Les décisions relatives à toutes les autres
transpositions et révisions. Toute tentative pour les questions d’édition et d’interprétation découlaient
ressusciter de nos jours proposera nécessairement de la prémisse initiale – jouer la trilogie non pas dans
une solution différente. des théâtres à l’italienne généreusement équipés
Lorsqu’il a fallu combler les lacunes musicales de machinerie, décors et accessoires, mais dans
dans la partition de Vienne, il a semblé préférable de des salles de concert (l’exception étant le Teatro
puiser à la musique de Monteverdi lui-même plutôt la Fenice de Venise, où nous avons donné deux
que de chercher de la musique contemporaine cycles complets sur une avant-scène ouverte).
de ses disciples ou de ses pairs. Car malgré les Notre but était de faire toucher à Monteverdi,
différences marquées de forme et de langage, au-delà des amateurs d’opéra, un public plus

33 33
vaste et plus jeune. En présentant sa trilogie dans percutante et expressive en contrepoint avec le dans
des mises en scène vivantes mais dépouillées, lisse flot legato des voyelles. Cela s’applique non ses
nous visions à communiquer la force radicale seulement aux consonnes doubles, mais aussi aux exac
et explosive de ces grands drames musicaux, virgules de la ponctuation, aux accents agogiques, débu
les profondeurs émotionnelles qu’ils sondent, et aux répétitions de mots et aux exclamations. fait r
leur climat étonnamment moderne, sans perdre C’est seulement une fois que la technique a été parfa
l’intimité intrinsèque de forme et de dialectique. pleinement maîtrisée par les chanteurs-acteurs (à pass
Nous savons (cette fois grâce à un autre de ses l’opposé des redoutables habitudes dont souffrent juste
librettistes, Michelangelo Torcigliani) que Monteverdi beaucoup de chanteurs d’opéra) que la perception figés
était toujours à l’affût de livrets avec des climats des mots par l’auditeur peut produire un véritable n’on
changeants – « parce qu’ils lui donnent la possibilité frisson ; mais cela souligne aussi le vocabulaire peuv
de montrer les merveilles de son art avec tout un expressif de Monteverdi dans sa mise en musique la ré
registre d’émotions, adaptant ses notes aux mots du texte et sa manière habile d’imiter les accents doit
et aux passions de telle manière que le chanteur rie, parlés. La légère anticipation de la consonne initiale par l
pleure, enrage, compatisse, et fasse tout ce qu’on et un minuscule retard avant la voyelle reflètent le fluid
lui demande ; entre-temps l’auditeur est amené par processus mental de la narration. Pour moi, c’est para
le même élan à percevoir la diversité et la force de analogue aux manières dont Monteverdi utilise de la
ces mêmes passions ». à la fois le rythme et le contrepoint. Dans ses défis
Une grande partie de nos répétitions a été opéras, il emploie habituellement une alternance que
passée à explorer la brillante fusion de la musique de mètres binaires et ternaires avec un tactus un c
et du texte chez Monteverdi, et à nous assurer implicite (une battue régulière et invariable). C’est opér
que chanteurs et instrumentistes soient les uns ici que naît l’intérêt rythmique. À quoi s’ajoute la et to
et les autres pleinement investis dans le texte. tension harmonique qu’il instaure entre ses lignes entre
Suivant les préceptes de son contemporain Marco vocales et la basse continue qui les soutient. [ou,
da Galliano, lui-même compositeur d’opéras, Celle-ci procède normalement avec une pulsation oppo
nous cherchions « à ciseler les syllabes pour faire ou un rythme harmonique régulier, mais s’épanouit émo
bien comprendre les mots », non seulement par en dissonances expressives à des moments- plus
une diction exacte dans sa prononciation et ses clefs, lorsqu’il imagine que ces deux lignes Mais
inflexions linguistiques, mais avec un plaisir sensuel. complémentaires doivent entrer en collision et mus
Notre coach linguistique, Matteo Dalle Fratte, s’est en conflit. ou ê
donné beaucoup de mal pour faire comprendre à la On imagine donc mon plaisir en découvrant rythm
distribution la beauté envoûtante de l’italien chanté que le regretté metteur en scène Sir Peter Hall a reço
lorsque les consonnes sont projetées de manière relevé quelque chose d’étonnamment similaire impr

dans la technique utilisée par Shakespeare pour exprime quelque chose de similaire : « La façon dont
ses grandes tragédies et pièces tardives, écrites les chanteurs jouent avec la linéarité du temps ou
exactement au même moment où Monteverdi la défient a quelque chose en commun avec ce que
débutait comme compositeur d’opéras. Hall font les acrobates et les jongleurs avec la force de
fait référence à « une liberté dans le vers qui est gravitation [...]. Le tempo, la battue, les boucles, les
parfaitement miraculeuse. [Dans Le Conte d’hiver], la répétitions d’un chant construisent un abri contre
passion tortueuse et la paranoïa de Léonte sont très l’écoulement du temps linéaire : un abri dans lequel
justement exprimées par ses rythmes irréguliers et futur, présent et passé peuvent consoler, provoquer,
figés, et ses mauvais accents. Mais ces irrégularités ironiser et s’inspirer l’un l’autre » (Confabulations).
n’ont de sens, sur le plan des émotions, et ne Dans Ulisse, on entend comment les habiles
peuvent affecter le public que si l’acteur connaît transitions de Monteverdi entre la conversation en
la régularité sous-jacente qui est en dessous. Il « parole chantée » (récitatif) et le chant pur (aria)
doit savourer les décalages rythmiques, être porté ou une combinaison des deux (arioso) servent à
par les irrégularités et utiliser les bosses dans la intensifier l’expression du tempérament et de l’état
fluidité à des fins émotionnelles. » Jusque-là, le d’esprit des personnages. En pratique, chaque
parallèle est frappant. Hall compare l’interprétation interprète a besoin d’avoir constamment conscience
de la poésie du Shakespeare de la maturité aux de la direction du discours – de la distinction
défis qu’affronte un grand musicien de jazz – bien cruciale chez Monteverdi entre narration (diégèse)
que cela s’applique tout aussi bien, à mon sens, à et représentation (mimesis) – et comment cela
un chanteur ou à un continuiste qui interprète les affecte le mouvement vers l’avant de l’action, ainsi
opéras de Monteverdi : « Il faut garder la battue, que le contenu émotionnel et le « ton » de chaque
et toujours sentir le rythme. Mais c’est la tension monologue ou échange. Cette distinction, qui était
entre cette régularité et l’irrégularité du discours quelque chose de nouveau dans l’évolution du
[ou, dans le cas de Monteverdi, la ligne vocale théâtre musical de l’époque, s’est développée en
opposée à la basse continue] qui exprime le trouble parallèle avec les techniques que Shakespeare
émotionnel. Plus la poésie est près de s’effondrer, explorait dans ses pièces tardives. Quand Hamlet
plus l’expression est torturée et chargée d’émotion. dit à l’acte 2 scène 2 : « Maintenant je suis seul.
Mais elle ne doit jamais s’effondrer, pas plus que le – Ô misérable rustre, maroufle que je suis ! » – il
musicien de jazz ne peut jamais manquer le temps n’est manifestement pas seul, mais s’adresse à un
ou être out. L’acteur doit risquer la désintégration auditoire bruyant au Théâtre du Globe. Comment
rythmique, mais ne jamais y céder. Ce que le public créer l’illusion d’intimité ? Voilà la question critique.
reçoit est donc inattendu, dangereux, et toujours Comment révéler une émotion crue et extrêmement
imprévisible » (Exposed by the Mask). John Berger personnelle avec une intensité irrésistible, mais sans

35 35
que personne ait à forcer sa voix ? monde pastoral bienveillant et le monde suffocant réde
Pour nos représentations, plutôt que de confiner de la cour de Pénélope **. ave
les instrumentistes dans une fosse, nous avons Cette juxtaposition de deux mondes opposés de l
décidé de suivre les conseils de Marco da Gagliano : est étonnamment proche de ce qu’on trouve Rem
« Soyez avisés que les instruments qui doivent dans Comme il vous plaira de Shakespeare, où leur
accompagner les voix solistes doivent être placés la forêt représente la liberté, la bonté naturelle et libe
de manière à regarder les acteurs en face, de sorte la vie en harmonie avec la Nature, tandis que la
que, s’entendant mieux l’un l’autre, ils peuvent cour, peuplée de sycophantes et de prétendants, duo
avancer ensemble. » Il y avait deux avantages symbolise tout ce qui est gâté et traître. Pourrait-on pou
supplémentaires : cela permettait au public de donc considérer l’Ulisse de Monteverdi comme une pen
voir complètement la « salle des machines » du espèce d’anticomédie shakespearienne ? Après disp
drame, avec les instrumentistes déployés en deux tout, l’opéra culmine dans un retour au lit conjugal laiss
demi-lunes symétriques, et d’assister à l’interaction après une histoire d’erreur d’identité démêlée, avant irréf
entre musiciens et chanteurs à chaque tournant. que l’ordre naturel ne soit finalement rétabli. Aucune part
Et comme nous jouions dans des salles de concert autre intrigue de l’époque n’a ce genre de trajectoire una
moyennes à grandes, et n’étions pas contraints mis à part la tragicomédie de Shakespeare. Mais les
par l’instrumentarium économiquement austère et parallèles s’étendent bien au-delà. Dans son portrait * Je
spatialement restreint des théâtres publics vénitiens d’Ulysse, et plus encore de Pénélope, Monteverdi leur
des années 1640, nous avons choisi d’augmenter révèle son profond intérêt pour un monde intérieur, ** Je
le groupe de continuo pour y inclure un lirone, comme fait Shakespeare dans Hamlet et Le Roi préc
une harpe et des paires de flûtes à bec et de Lear : le dramaturge et le compositeur explorent Anto
cornets, sans compromettre l’intimité du dialogue tous deux des pensées et sentiments complexes Jam
ni la projection des mots. De même, nous avons qui vont au-delà des mots et des actions. Il Ritorno
sous-tendu avec une vigoureuse articulation des d’Ulisse, l’avant-dernier opéra de Monteverdi,
cordes les passages où Monteverdi recourt à un marque une autre étape dans une vie passée à
trope guerrier dans son style concitato (agité) pour transformer la musique – d’un acte d’habile artifice
exprimer le mépris, la colère ou le bellicisme. C’est reflétant l’harmonie des sphères en une forme
analogue à sa pratique dans ses Madrigali guerrieri d’expression enracinée dans les vérités et émotions
e amorosi (1638) et à ce qu’il prescrit pour la lutte humaines. Cela correspondait à un changement
d’Ulysse avec Iro et la sinfonia da guerra qui conclut fondamental – d’un langage musical qui parlait
l’acte 2. Ailleurs, de temps à autre, nous avons essentiellement en affirmations métaphysiques
introduit des lignes improvisées pour souligner la en un langage capable de refléter un monde plein
distinction entre les dieux et les humains, et entre le de misère, de dépravation, mais aussi d’amour

rédempteur. Il se trouve qu’il coïncide exactement
avec l’une des périodes turbulentes de l’histoire
de la peinture, où des artistes comme Vélasquez,
Rembrandt ou Artemisia Gentileschi, tous au faîte de
leurs facultés, libéraient leur énergie et prenaient des
libertés équivalentes avec les conventions vénérées.
Y a-t-il aucun autre opéra qui culmine dans un
duo où les deux protagonistes chantent ensemble
pour la toute première fois ? Ils ne se sont pas parlé
pendant vingt ans. Il revient après avoir été porté
disparu. Elle est restée dévouée et inflexible, ne
laissant éclater son chant que lorsqu’elle a la preuve
irréfutable qu’il est son homme. Mais maintenant ils
partagent le langage de l’amour avec une touchante
unanimité qui est une proclamation de vie.

* Je remercie James Halliday et Paolo Zanzu pour

leur aide à cet égard.
** Je remercie les collègues suivants pour leur
précieuses contributions improvisées : Paolo Zanzu,
Antonio Greco, Kati Debretzeni, Rachel Beckett,
Jamie Savan et James Halliday.

37 37
Je suis une chose mortelle La première ligne du prologue d’Il ritorno d’Ulisse tard
in patria (1640), prononcée par le personnage réus
Tim Carter allégorique de L’humana fragilità (La Fragilité en r
humaine), pourrait avoir eu une certaine résonance dem
pour Claudio Monteverdi. À soixante-treize ans, il
accomplissait un geste extraordinaire en retournant L’op
à la scène lyrique. Sa longue histoire de compositeur
pour le théâtre avait débuté alors qu’il était Dan
employé comme musicien à la cour du duc Vincent qu’u
Gonzague de Mantoue. Là, il fut toujours mêlé à Nord
tous les principaux genres théâtraux de la fin de la des
Renaissance, dont les pièces avec intermedi, les repr
balli chantés et dansés, et une nouvelle invention spéc
florentine : la favola in musica – autrement dit, ce app
que nous appelons désormais opéra. Dans ce pas
dernier genre, L’Orfeo (1607) est une œuvre tout à mom
fait remarquable, et le plus ancien exemple qui ait sur s
trouvé sa place au répertoire. Monteverdi composa – et
ensuite Arianna (1608), qui attira énormément enco
d’attention à l’époque, mais dont la musique est trad
maintenant perdue, mis à part la célèbre lamentation E
d’Ariane. ses
En s’installant à Venise en 1613, Monteverdi, pub
en sa qualité de maître de chapelle de la basilique mus
Saint-Marc, se voyait nécessairement contraint Man
de se focaliser davantage sur la musique pour de la
l’église et les cérémonies officielles. Mais il continua dans
d’écrire de la musique profane et même théâtrale en est-
réponse à des commandes émanant de Mantoue et le jo
d’autres cours d’Italie du Nord (dont Parme), ainsi autr
que pour des nobles vénitiens plus près de chez lui ; dès
et dans les années 1630 il noua des liens avec les trois
Habsbourg à Vienne. Personne, toutefois, ne pouvait mon
s’attendre à ce qu’il revienne à de grands opéras si

tard dans sa carrière. Pourquoi le fit-il, et comment Le nouvel opéra public fut manifestement
réussit-il à s’adapter aux nouveaux styles musicaux, un succès commercial. Venise avait un marché
en rapide évolution ? Ce sont des questions qui tout prêt, avec non seulement ses citoyens,
demandent à être explorées. mais aussi les touristes qui faisaient (et font
encore) le voyage pour admirer les merveilles
L’opéra à Venise architecturales et artistiques de la ville – ainsi que
ses plaisirs sensuels. Lorsque le voyageur anglais
Dans le premier tiers du XVIIe siècle, l’opéra n’avait Thomas Coryate visita Venise en 1608, il attira
qu’une histoire sporadique dans les cours d’Italie du particulièrement l’attention sur la musique qu’on
Nord et à Rome. Les opéras étaient essentiellement pouvait entendre dans les églises ou les rues, et
des œuvres de circonstance destinées à une grâce aux doigts et aux gosiers gazouillants de
représentation unique pour célébrer un événement séduisantes courtisanes. Le fait que la saison
spécial. Ils n’étaient pas non plus toujours très d’opéra se déroulait essentiellement pendant le
appréciés, car les spectateurs de la cour n’avaient carnaval (officiellement, du lendemain de Noël au
pas grand désir de rester assis pendant de longs commencement du Carême) tendait à accentuer
moments à observer passivement un drame musical les plaisirs lascifs tirés de son sujet, mais aussi de
sur scène. Le nombre d’opéras produit était restreint ses interprètes.
– et le nombre de ceux qui étaient repris plus limité L’industrie de l’opéra qui en résulta à Venise
encore –, si bien qu’il est difficile de parler d’une reposait sur de complexes interactions entre les
tradition continue. propriétaires de théâtres, les impresarios et les
En 1637, le Teatro San Cassiano à Venise ouvrit entrepreneurs indépendants : poètes, compositeurs,
ses portes en tant que théâtre d’opéra pour un chanteurs, instrumentistes, maîtres de ballet,
public payant. L’initiative semble être venue de deux décorateurs, fabricants de costumes – et ainsi de
musiciens poètes, Benedetto Ferrari et Francesco suite. Sans doute y avait-il de l’argent à gagner dans
Manelli, qui formèrent une troupe sur le modèle cette entreprise, même si le succès dépendait d’un
de la commedia dell’arte, régulièrement présente pari qui pouvait être gagné ou perdu. On ne sait
dans les théâtres vénitiens et ailleurs. Toujours pas si Monteverdi y voyait un éventuel profit. Mais
est-il que l’idée prit : cinq opéras nouveaux virent en tant que plus éminent musicien dans la Venise
le jour au cours des trois saisons suivantes, et trois de l’époque, il fut manifestement sollicité pour servir
autres théâtres d’opéra avaient ouvert dans la ville la cause.
dès 1641. À la fin de la saison 1646-1647, trente-
trois œuvres nouvelles et six reprises y avaient été

39 39
Monteverdi (re)prend la scène livrets divisent l’opéra en cinq actes au lieu de Grec
trois, et il subsiste une version avec un prologue de v
Monteverdi procéda prudemment, restant en différent (pour lequel nous n’avons pas de musique). de fo
coulisses pendant les trois premières saisons L’unique partition que nous ayons fut probablement nota
d’opéra public à Venise. Pour le carnaval de 1640- copiée dans les années 1650, avant de parvenir à de V
1641, il mit aussi deux théâtres en concurrence, Vienne (où elle est désormais conservée) quelques le ca
reprenant son Arianna au Teatro San Moisè et décennies plus tard. Il manque une partie de la «
produisant un nouvel opéra, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in la musique (par exemple un ballo à l’acte 2, au prét
patria, probablement au Teatro Santi Giovanni e moment où les prétendants courtisent Pénélope), mes
Paolo. Il est difficile d’imaginer ce que le public qui peut être empruntée de manière plausible d’un
vénitien a pu penser d’Arianna, qui avait alors plus à d’autres sources. dans
de trente ans (on ne sait pas si Monteverdi en révisa
la musique, mais le texte n’avait pas beaucoup Grèce, Rome… Venise Mus
changé). Quant à Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria,
l’impulsion semble être venue de son librettiste, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria est fondé sur l’Odyssée Par
le noble Vénitien Giacomo Badoaro, qui affirmait d’Homère (XIII-XXIII), Le nozze d’Enea con Lavinia tout
dans une lettre ouverte au compositeur qu’il voulait sur l’Énéide de Virgile et L’incoronazione di Poppea susp
le tenter de sortir de sa retraite pour que le public essentiellement sur l’historien romain Tacite. auss
vénitien puisse comprendre comment les émotions Ces sources se distinguent quelque peu de celles part
véritables pouvaient être représentées sur la des autres opéras vénitiens de l’époque en ce des
scène musicale, loin des fades imitations d’autres qu’elles puisent au mythe classique, à l’épopée émo
compositeurs contemporains. de la Renaissance (L’Arioste et Le Tasse) ou à la simp
Monteverdi releva le défi, et avec un succès pastorale. Mais si le mythe, l’épopée et la pastorale ne re
significatif, semble-t-il : Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria sont toujours ouverts à l’interprétation symbolique et son
fut donné au moins dix fois au cours de la première allégorique – c’est leur propos –, Monteverdi et ses cette
saison, puis emmené en tournée à Bologne par librettistes paraissent leur donner des résonances repo
Ferrari et Manelli, et ensuite repris à Venise l’année plus proches de chez eux. de v
suivante. Pour la saison 1641-1642, Monteverdi La question semble s’articuler autour du rôle L
composa aussi Le nozze d’Enea con Lavinia (dont la de l’Accademia degli Incogniti vénitienne, groupe princ
musique est perdue), et pour 1642-1643 une œuvre libertin de nobles vénitiens qui étaient aussi leur
tout à fait étonnante, L’incoronazione di Poppea. d’ardents républicains dans leur orientation politique main
Comme souvent pour l’opéra vénitien, les (comme l’était Venise elle-même). Ainsi qu’on le texte
sources qui subsistent pour Il ritorno d’Ulisse in voit dans d’autres opéras de l’époque émanant pouv
patria sont quelque peu problématiques. Certains des Incogniti, la représentation sur scène de bons lyriq

Grecs, de bons ou mauvais Troyens (selon le point de l’action, lorsqu’un chant véritable pouvait se
de vue), et de mauvais Romains avait manifestement justifier sur scène (comme au moment où Orphée
de fortes connotations politiques, étant donné chante pour les puissances d’Hadès), ou lorsqu’on
notamment la relation profondément problématique pouvait en insérer un par convention (par exemple
de Venise elle-même avec Rome et la papauté. Dans un chœur de fin d’acte). La distinction était claire sur
le cas d’Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, la descente de le plan musical, mais aussi poétique : les textes des
la « cour » de Pénélope dans les dépravations de « chants » – on pourrait commencer à les appeler
prétendants importuns et de leurs parasites porte un « airs » – étaient en strophes régulières du point de
message fort : notre héros, Ulysse, n’a besoin que vue du mètre et de la rime.
d’une intervention divine minime pour rétablir l’ordre L’opéra public imposa un changement dans les
dans un monde politique si corrompu. priorités – qui a envie de payer pour entendre un
opéra contenant uniquement de la parole chantée ?
Musique et morale – et fit donc émerger le dilemme fondamental de
l’opéra : pourquoi devrait-on y chanter ? Bien sûr,
Par définition ou presque, et à pratiquement le chant n’est pas inapproprié pour certains types
toute époque, l’opéra est en général moralement de personnages – dieux, bergers, servantes –
suspect – non seulement à cause de son sujet, mais ou situations (séduction, incantation, scènes de
aussi en raison de son emploi de musique. Les sommeil, et ainsi de suite), et tout livret d’opéra
partisans du genre affirment que la musique explore sensé introduisait de tels prétextes pour le chant à
des situations dramatiques et des profondeurs chaque occasion qui s’offrait. La formule est claire
émotionnelles et psychologiques auxquelles la dans Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, notamment dans le
simple parole n’a pas accès. Ses détracteurs – s’ils traitement du berger Eumée, des amants de classe
ne rejettent pas simplement l’opéra en raison de inférieure Mélantho et Eurymaque, et des divinités,
son absence de vraisemblance – soutiennent que avec en particulier une écriture extrêmement
cette défense est inepte : l’opéra est frivole et virtuose pour Minerve et Junon. Conformément
repose uniquement sur de vaines démonstrations à son statut, Ulysse tend à adopter un langage
de virtuosité vocale. musical plus retenu – même lors de ses joyeuses
L’opéra de cour à ses débuts avait établi des retrouvailles avec son fils Télémaque –, bien qu’il ne
principes selon lesquels les personnages chantaient soit pas opposé au chant quand le moment semble
leur rôle dans un style déclamatoire (qu’on appelle opportun. Quant aux prétendants et au parasite
maintenant récitatif), plus sensible aux exigences du Irus, leur penchant pour le chant, plutôt que pour
texte qu’à la musique en soi. Ce style déclamatoire la parole chantée, tend à les identifier comme des
pouvait ensuite se transformer en moments plus personnages peu nobles sur le plan du caractère
lyriques et plus chantants à des endroits spécifiques et des actions.

41 41
La voix de Pénélope Tim Carter, professeur distingué de musique David
G. Frey à l’Université de Caroline du Nord à Chapel
Pénélope est manifestement problématique, Hill, a beaucoup travaillé sur la musique italienne de
toutefois. D’un côté, le public vénitien aimait les la fin de la Renaissance et des débuts du baroque ;
cantatrices et leurs voix séductrices. De l’autre, il est l’auteur de Monteverdi’s Musical Theatre et
un noble personnage féminin qui « chante » trop de Understanding Italian Opera, et a également
volontiers, et trop mélodieusement, entre forcément publié des livres sur Le nozze di Figaro de Mozart
en terrain dangereux : peut-on se fier à sa vertu, et Oklahoma ! de Rodgers et Hammerstein.
ou est-elle fragile ? On rencontre Pénélope pour
la première fois tout au début de l’acte I, où elle
déplore l’absence d’Ulysse de manière typique
d’une femme qui se lamente, avec de francs échos
du Lamento d’Arianna, seule musique à subsister de
l’opéra de Monteverdi de 1608 (repris, nous l’avons
vu, à Venise). Si sa plainte en récitatif est éloquente,
musicalement, elle a peu de chose à y dire.
À mesure que l’opéra progresse, les servantes
de Pénélope, puis ses prétendants, l’assiègent
de chant, l’entourant des airs séducteurs de
mesure ternaire qui se répandaient dans l’opéra
vénitien. Elle résiste chaque fois farouchement ;
son langage musical devient même de plus en plus
aride à mesure qu’elle sombre dans la paralysie
émotionnelle. Ce n’est que vers la fin de l’acte III,
lorsqu’elle commence à croire que l’étranger devant
elle est effectivement son mari depuis longtemps
perdu, qu’elle se met à retrouver sa voix et à lui
permettre de s’épanouir dans un superbe moment
de libération d’autant plus puissant que Pénélope
a précisément si peu « chanté » jusque-là. Elle peut
aimer – et donc chanter – de nouveau, et rares sont
ceux qui la condamneront pour cela.


Act 1

1 Prologo Prologue
Humana Fragilità, Tempo, Fortuna, Amore Human Frailty, Time, Fortune, Cupid

Humana Fragilità Human Frailty

Mortal cosa son io, fattura humana. A mortal thing am I, in human form:
Tutto mi turba, un soffio sol m’abbatte. everything distresses me, a puff of wind can fell me;
Il Tempo che mi crea, quel mi combatte. Time who created me also fights against me.

Tempo Time
Salvo è niente Nothing is safe
dal mio dente. from my bite.
Ei rode, It gnaws
ei gode. and delights in it.
Non fuggite, o mortali, Flee not, mortals,
ché, se ben zoppo, ho l’ali. for though I limp, I have wings.

Humana Fragilità Human Frailty

Mortal cosa son io, fattura humana. A mortal thing am I, in human form:
Senza periglio invan ricerco loco, in vain do I seek a place safe from dangers,
ché frale vita è di Fortuna un gioco. for frail life is a plaything of Fortune.

Fortuna Fortune
Mia vita son voglie, Desires, joys
le gioie, le doglie. and sorrows are my life.
Son cieca, son sorda, I’m blind, I’m deaf,
non vedo, non odo. I see not, I hear not;
Ricchezze, grandezze riches and greatness
dispenso a mio modo. I distribute according to my fancy.

Humana Fragilità Human Frailty

Mortal cosa son io, fattura humana. A mortal thing am I, in human form:
Al Tiranno d’Amor serva sen giace my green and fleeting youth
la mia fiorita età, verde e fugace. is enslaved to tyrannical Cupid.

Amore Cupid ATT
Dio de’ Dei feritor, mi dice il mondo Amor. The world calls me, Cupid, the god who pierces gods.
Cieco saettator, alato, ignudo, A blind, winged, nude marksman, 2 Sce
contro il mio stral non val difesa, o scudo. no defence or shield is of any avail against my arrow.
Humana Fragilità Human Frailty Pen
Misera son ben io, fattura humana. Wretched I am indeed, in human form:
Creder a ciechi e zoppi è cosa vana. to believe the blind and the lame is a vain thing. Pen
Di m
Tempo Time, non
Per me fragile, Through me frail, L’as
e pu
Fortuna Fortune La s
Per me misero, Through me wretched, A ch
Amore Cupid spe
Per me torbido, Through me distressed, all’in
Tempo, Fortuna, Amore Time, Fortune, Cupid Sco
quest’huom sarà. This man will be. dal
in c
Tempo Time, il su
Il Tempo ch’affretta, Time that rushes, chia
A ra
Fortuna Fortune poic
Fortuna ch’alletta, Fortune that entices, ch’è
si p
Amore Cupid Ma
Amor che saetta, Cupid, who fires his arrows, con
de l
Tempo, Fortuna, Amore Time, Fortune, Cupid l’affl
pietate non ha. Have no pity. Ulis
Fragile, misero, torbido, quest’huom sarà. Frail, wretched, distressed will this man be. tu c


2 Scena I Scene I

Reggia The palace

Penelope, Ericlea Penelope, Eurycleia

Penelope Penelope
Di misera Regina Sorrow and trouble never end for this
non terminati mai dolenti affanni. miserable queen!
L’aspettato non giunge, The awaited one does not return
e pur fuggono gli anni. and the years rush by;
La serie del penar è lunga, ahi troppo. my torments have lasted, alas, too long;
A chi vive in angoscie il Tempo è zoppo. time is lame for whoever lives in anguish.
Fallacissima speme, Misguided hope,
speranze non più verdi, ma canute, hope no longer green but hoary,
all’invecchiato male you no longer promise peace
non promette più pace o salute. nor healing to my persistent pain.
Scorsero quattro lustri Two decades have passed
dal memorabil giorno since the unforgettable day when,
in cui con sue rapine through an abduction,
il superbo Troiano the proud Trojan
chiamò l’alta sua Patria alle ruine. plunged his illustrious homeland into ruin.
A ragion arse Troia, Troy burned justly,
poiché l’Amor impuro, for impure love,
ch’è un delitto di foco, which is a crime of fire,
si purga con le fiamme. must be purged by fire.
Ma ben contro ragione, per l’altrui fallo But most unjustly,
condannata innocente, while innocent,
de l’altrui colpe io sono I am condemned to suffer
l’afflitta penitente. because of others’ misdeeds.
Ulisse accorto e saggio, Shrewd, wise Ulysses,
tu che punir gl’adùlteri ti vanti, who boasts of punishing adulterers,

47 47
aguzzi l’armi e susciti le fiamme you sharpen your weapons and fan the flames di c
per vendicar gl’errori to avenge the misdeeds ma
d’una profuga greca, e ’n tanto lasci of a faithless Greek woman, Cos
la tua casta consorte while you leave your chaste wife col
fra nemici rivali among hostile rivals, fom
in dubbio de l’honore, in forse a morte. her honour, perhaps her life, at stake. Torn
Ogni partenza attende Every departure longingly
desïato ritorno, awaits a return, Eric
tu sol del tuo tornar perdesti il giorno. you alone have lost your day of returning. Part
Ericlea Eurycleia Non
Infelice Ericlea, Unhappy Eurycleia, ahi,
nutrice sconsolata, inconsolable nurse,
compiangi il duol de la Regina amata. share the grief of your beloved queen. Pen
Penelope Penelope torn
Non è dunque per me varia la sorte? Is there then no change in my fate? l’Au
Cangiò forse Fortuna Has Fortune perhaps stopped è un
la volubile ruota in stabil seggio? her ever-turning wheel? Torn
E la sua pronta vela, And her quick sail torn
ch’ogn’human caso porta that carries every human destiny e co
fra l’incostanza a volo, through changes torn
sol per me non raccoglie un fiato solo? gathers no breath of wind for me? L’hu
Cangian per altri pur aspetto in Cielo The stars change their pattern in the sky lung
le stelle erranti e fisse. only for others. port
Torna, deh torna, Ulisse. Return, oh return, Ulysses! Tos
Penelope t’aspetta, Penelope awaits you, e to
l’innocente sospira, the innocent one sighs, e to
piange l’offesa, e contro the offended one weeps, and yet harbours dop
il tenace offensor neppur s’adira. no anger against the offender. Tu s
All’anima affannata I make excuses for you Torn
porto le tue discolpe, to my distressed soul al m
acciò non resti and instead of thinking you cruel veg

di crudeltà macchiato, I hold Fate responsible for my misfortune.
ma fabbro de’ miei danni incolpo il Fato. Thus in your defence
Così per tua difesa, I take issue and argue
col destino, col Cielo with Fate, with Heaven.
fomento guerre, e stabilisco risse. Return, oh return, Ulysses!
Torna, deh torna, Ulisse.

Ericlea Eurycleia
Partir senza ritorno A departure without return
non può stella influir. cannot be the will of the stars;
Non è partir, non è, this is not a departure,
ahi, che non è partir. alas, this is not a departure.

Penelope Penelope
Torna il tranquillo al mare, Calm returns to the sea,
torna il Zeffiro al prato, Zephyr returns to the meadow,
l’Aurora, mentre al Sol fa dolce invito, the dawn meanwhile sweetly invites the sun
è un ritorno del dì, che è pria partito. to a return of the day which had departed.
Tornan le brine in terra, The waters return to the earth,
tornano al centro i sassi, the stones return to the centre,
e con lubrici passi and with sensual motion
torna all’oceano il rivo. the river returns to the ocean.
L’huomo qua giù, ch’è vivo, Man, who lives down here,
lunge da’ suoi principi away from his origins,
porta un’alma celeste e un corpo frale. has a celestial soul and a frail body.
Tosto more il mortale, Soon the mortal dies
e torna l’alma in Cielo, and the soul returns to heaven
e torna il corpo in polve and the body returns to dust
dopo breve soggiorno. after a brief sojourn;
Tu sol del tuo tornar perdesti il giorno. you alone have lost the day of your return.
Torna, ché mentre porti empie dimore Return, for while
al mio fiero dolore, my grief has no abode
veggio del mio morir l’hore prefisse. I can see the preordained hour of my death.
Torna, deh torna, Ulisse. Return, oh return, Ulysses!

49 49
3 Scena II Scene II èt
Melanto, Eurimaco Melantho, Eurymachus ciò

Melanto Melantho
Duri, e penosi Bitter are the torments Me
son gl’amorosi that the lover suffers Ve
fieri desir. in his desire; o,
Ma al fin son cari, but at last, the harsh sufferings, ing
se prima amari though bitter at first, ind
gl’aspri martir. are cherished. Lie
Ché s’arde un core, If a heart is burning le t
d’allegrezza è il foco, it is a fire of joy,
né mai perde in amor and he never loses Eu
chi compie il gioco. who plays the game of love. Bu
Chi pria s’accende Whoever is first inflamed ch
procelle attende by a white bosom co
da un bianco sen. can expect storms, èb
Ma corseggiando but riding them out
trova in amando he finds in loving Me
porto seren. a serene harbour. De
Si piange pria, First, there is weeping, ch
ma al fin la gioia ha loco, but at last joy takes its place,
né mai perde in amor he never loses Eu
chi compie il gioco. who plays the game of love. Né
Eurimaco Eurymachus
Bella Melanto mia, My beautiful Melantho, Me
grazïosa Melanto, delightful Melantho, S’i
il tuo canto è un incanto, your song is enchantment, l’al
il tuo volto è magia. your face is magic.
Bella Melanto mia, My beautiful Melantho!

è tutto laccio in te ciò ch’altri ammaga, Everything about you that enchants others
ciò che laccio non è, fa tutto piaga. is captivating
and what is not captivating is wounding

Melanto Melantho
Vezzoso garruletto, Loquacious flatterer,
o, come ben tu sai oh how well you know
ingemmar le bellezze, how to sing of beauty,
indorar a tuo pro d’un volto i rai. to describe to your own advantage
Lieto vezzeggia pur. Son glorie mie the radiance of a face. Flatter away.
le tue dolci bugie. Your sweet lies are my adornments.

Eurimaco Eurymachus
Bugia sarebbe s’io It would be lies
lodando non t’amassi, if I, in praising, did not love you,
ch’il negar d’adorar for refusing to adore
confessata deità an acknowledged deity
è bugia d’impietà. is blasphemy.

Melanto, Eurimaco Melantho, Eurymachus

De’ nostri amor concordi May the flame of our mutual love
sia pur la fiamma accesa, be lit;
ch’amato il non amar arreca offesa. for it is an offence not to return love.

Eurimaco Eurymachus
Né con ragion s’offende And it is not right to hurt
colui che per offese amor ti rende. whomever reciprocates offence with love.

Melanto Melantho
S’io non t’amo, cor mio, che sia di gelo If I do not love you, my heart, may my soul
l’alma ch’ho in seno a tuoi begli occhi avante. turn to ice before your eyes.

51 51
Eurimaco Eurymachus Mel
S’in adorarti il cor non ho costante, If my heart is not constant in its devotion, Rite
non mi sia stanza il mondo o tetto il cielo. the world shall no longer be abode pert
nor the sky a roof for me. ritoc
Melanto, Eurimaco Melantho, Eurymachus
Dolce mia vita sei, My sweet life, Mel
lieto mio ben sarai, you shall be my beloved, Dolc
nodo sì bel non si disciolga mai. may such a beautiful knot never be dissolved. lieto
Melanto Melantho
Come il desio m’invoglia, Oh, how desire inspires me, 4 Sce
Eurimaco, mia vita, Eurymachus, my life, Nett
senza fren, senza morso to fulfil without any regret or restraint
dar nel tuo sen alle mie gioie il corso. my dream of love with you! Net
Eurimaco Eurymachus cag
Come volentieri cangierei Oh how gladly I would exchange facil
questa reggia in un deserto this palace for a desert, Fa g
ove occhio curioso where curious eyes tutt’
a veder non giungesse i nostri errori, could not pursue us. Indo
e l’a
Melanto, Eurimaco Melantho, Eurymachus col C
ch’ad un focoso petto For an ardent bosom Ma
il rispetto è dispetto. despises every obstacle. i tra
Eurimaco Eurymachus il ful
Tu dunque t’affatica, So try harder teng
suscita in lei le fiamme. to kindle love in her! Ma
col p

Melanto Melantho
Ritenterò quell’alma I will try again
pertinace, ostinata, that obstinate soul,
ritoccherò quel core touch again that heart
ch’indïamanta l’honore. which is a temple of chastity.

Melanto, Eurimaco Melantho, Eurymachus

Dolce mia vita sei, My sweet life,
lieto mio ben sarai, you shall be my beloved,
nodo sì bel non si disciolga mai. may such a beautiful knot never be dissolved.

4 Scena IV – Scena V Scene IV – Scene V

Nettuno sorge dal mare, poi Giove in Cielo Neptune rises from the sea, then Jupiter in Heaven

Nettuno Neptune
Superbo è l’huom, et è del suo peccato Man is arrogant, and is the cause of his own sinning,
cagion, benché lontano, il Ciel cortese, though remote, kind heaven
facile, ahi troppo, in perdonar l’offese. is only too willing to pardon offences.
Fa guerra col destin, pugna col Fato, Human freedom wages war against Destiny,
tutt’osa, tutt’ardisce l’humana libertate. fights with fate, dares all, risks all,
Indomita si rende, makes itself indomitable,
e l’arbitrio de l’huom and the will of man
col Ciel contende. struggles against heaven.
Ma se Giove benigno But if benign Jupiter
i trascorsi de l’huom troppo perdona, pardons too readily the transgressions of man,
tenga egli a voglia sua nella gran destra he holds at his will the lightning idle
il fulmine otioso, in his mighty right hand.
tengalo invendicato. He may not exact revenge,
Ma non soffra Nettuno but Neptune should not accept
col proprio dishonor l’human peccato. his honour to be stained by human transgression.

53 53
Ulisse (fra sé parla, e dice) Ulysses (aside) Ulis
Sempre l’human bisogno il Ciel soccorre. Heaven always succours human need. Io g
Quel giovinetto, tenero negli anni, That young boy, per
mal pratico d’inganni, inexperienced in deceit, d’ho
forse che’l mio pensier farà contento, can perhaps put my mind at rest: M’a
che non ha frode in seno for he can have no dishonesty in his heart in E
chi non ha pelo al mento. who has no hair on his chin. Ma
Minerva Minerva Sin
Giovinezza è un bel tesor Youth is a lovely treasure Ma
che fa ricco in gioia un sen. that brings joy to the heart. per
Per lei zoppo il Tempo vien, Time only limps in youth, colà
per lei vola alato Amor. winged Cupid flies in its honour. ch’i
Giovinezza è un bel tesor. Youth is a lovely treasure. de’
Ulisse Ulysses con
Vezzoso pastorello, Gentle shepherd boy, isco
deh, sovvieni un perduto oh help one who is lost E ’l
di consiglio e d’aiuto, e dimmi pria with advice and with aid,
di questa spiaggia, and tell me first of all Min
e questo porto il nome. the name of this land and this harbour. Ben
Minerva Minerva È be
Itaca è questa, in sen di questo mare, This is Ithaca, in the bosom of this sea, ma
porto famoso e spiaggia a renowned harbour and Tu d
felice, avventurata. a happy and propitious land.
Faccia gioconda, e grata Your face lights up at such a fair name.
a sì bel nome fai. But how did you come here
Ma tu come venisti, e dove vai? and where are you going?

Ulisse Ulysses
Io greco sono et hor di Creta io vengo I am a Greek and have come from Crete
per fuggir il castigo to flee punishment
d’homicidio eseguito. of a murder I committed.
M’accolsero i Feaci e m’han promesso The Phaeacians received me and promised
in Elide condurmi. to take me to Elis,
Ma dal cruccioso mar, dal vento infido but we were shipwrecked on this shore
fummo a forza cacciati in questo lido. by the angry sea and a treacherous wind.
Sin qui, pastor, hebbi nemico il caso. Fate, shepherd, has been hostile to me until now.
Ma sbarcato al riposo But when I disembarked to rest,
per veder quieto il mar, secondi i venti, and noticing the calm sea and the favourable winds
colà m’addormentai sì dolcemente, I fell asleep so sweetly
ch’io non udii, non vidi that I neither saw nor heard
de’ Feaci crudeli la furtiva partenza, the furtive departure
ond’io rimasi of the cruel Phaeacians,
con le mie spoglie in su l’arena ignudo, and I was left ashore with my possessions
isconosciuto e solo. naked, unknown and alone,
E ’l sonno che partì lasciommi il duolo. and when sleep left me, it left me only grief.

Minerva Minerva
Ben lungamente addormentato fosti, You have indeed slept long
ch’ancor ombre racconti e sogni narri. that you still speak of shadows and narrate dreams.
È ben accorto Ulisse, Shrewd indeed is Ulysses,
ma più saggia è Minerva. but Minerva is wiser.
Tu dunque, Ulisse, i miei precetti osserva. Therefore, Ulysses, follow my instructions!

55 59
Ulisse Ulysses Ulis
Chi crederebbe mai Whoever would have believed it! Ad o
le Deità vestite in human velo? A deity clothed in human garb?
Si fanno queste mascherate in Cielo? Do such masquerades happen in heaven? Min
Grazie ti rendo, o protettrice Dea. I give you thanks, O protecting goddess: Io v
Ben so che per tuo amore I know well that because of your love ince
furon senza periglio i miei pensieri. I have been free from danger. Ulis
Hor consolato seguo Now, comforted, D’u
i tuoi saggi consigli. I follow your wise counsel. Qui
al lit
Minerva Minerva Il gi
Incognito sarai, You will be disguised, ché
non conosciuto andrai, sin che tu vegga will travel unrecognised,
dei Proci tuoi rivali until you see the shameless arrogance Ulis
la sfacciata baldanza, of your rivals, the suitors. Ecc
Ulisse Ulysses son
O fortunato Ulisse. Oh fortunate Ulysses! test

Minerva Minerva Min

di Penelope casta The immutable faithfulness Hor
l’immutabil costanza. of chaste Penelope. que
Ulisse Ulysses dell
O fortunato Ulisse. Oh fortunate Ulysses!
Minerva Minerva Ninf
Or t’adacqua la fronte Now wet your brow le g
nella vicina fonte, at the nearby spring, spo
ch’anderai sconosciuto, so that you will be unrecognizable tutto
in sembiante canuto. in the hoary guise of an old man. Ninf

Ulisse Ulysses
Ad obbedirti vado, indi ritorno. I shall obey you, and then return.

Minerva Minerva
Io vidi per vendetta I saw Troy burning in vengeance;
incenerirsi Troia, hora mi resta all that remains for me to do is to lead Ulysses
Ulisse ricondur in Patria, in Regno. back to his homeland, to his kingdom;
D’un’oltraggiata Dea questo è lo sdegno. such is the anger of an offended goddess.
Quinci imparate voi, stolti mortali, Learn from this, you foolish mortals,
al litigio divin non poner bocca. not to interfere in divine disputes:
Il giudizio del Ciel a voi non tocca, it is not fitting for you to judge Heaven,
ché son di terra i vostri tribunali. for your tribunals are for Earth alone.

Ulisse (trasformato in un vecchio) Ulysses (transformed into an old man)

Eccomi, saggia Dea. Here I am, wise goddess.
Questi peli che guardi The hair that you see
sono di mia vecchiaia is deceitful witness
testimoni bugiardi. to my old age.

Minerva Minerva
Hor poniamo in sicuro Now we shall hide
queste tue spoglie amate your precious possessions
entro quell’antro oscuro within that dark cave
delle Naiadi Ninfe al Ciel sacrate. belonging to the Nereids, the blessed nymphs.

Minerva, Ulisse Minerva, Ulysses

Ninfe, serbate Nymphs, guard
le gemme e gl’ori, the gems and the gold,
spoglie e tesori, spoils and treasure,
tutto serbate, guard all,
Ninfe sacrate. blessed Nymphs.

57 61
Coro di ninfe Chorus of Nymphs 9 Sc
Bella diva, eccoci pronte Beautiful goddess, we are Re
al tuo cenno, al tuo voler; at your service. Pe
e quest’antro, e quella fonte This cavern and this spring
spruzza e s’apre a tuo piacer. open and spout at your will. Pe
Itaca lieta si mostra, sì, Ithaca will rejoice Do
al bel ritorno d’Ulisse un dì! at Ulysses’ return! co

8 Scena IX Scene IX Me
Minerva e Ulisse mentre l’altre Ninfe portano Minerva, Ulysses, while the Nymphs take his Ca
all’antro il bagaglio possessions to the cavern avv
Minerva Minerva me
Tu d’Aretusa al fonte intanto vanne, Go you meanwhile to Arethusa’s spring Ac
ove il Pastor Eumete, where the shepherd Eumaeus, de
tuo fido antico servo, your faithful old servant, pe
custodisce la greggia. Ivi m’attendi watches over his flocks. Wait for me there da
in sin che pria di Sparta io ti conduca while I first bring back from Sparta No
Telemaco, tuo figlio. your son, Telemachus; L’o
Poi d’eseguir t’appresta il mio consiglio. then, prepare to carry out my instructions. est
Ulisse Ulysses ec
O fortunato Ulisse, O fortunate Ulysses! La
fuggi del tuo dolor Abandon the pain of your so
l’antico error, old misdeeds. viv
lascia il pianto, Weep no more pe
dolce canto and let a gentle song un
dal tuo cor lieto disserra. flow from your glad heart. s’a
Non si disperi più mortale in terra. No more shall mortals despair on earth! sta
O fortunato Ulisse, O fortunate Ulysses, Un
cara vicenda. O happy fate. il g
Si può soffrir I can endure delight, suffering, ch
hor diletto, hor martir, hor pace, hor guerra. peace or war. La
Non si disperi più mortale in terra. No mortal on earth shall ever despair. de

9 Scena X Scene X
Reggia The Palace
Penelope, Melanto Penelope, Melantho

Penelope Penelope
Donate un giorno, o dèi O gods, grant my wishes
contento a’ desir miei. one day.

Melanto Melantho
Cara amata regina, Dear beloved queen,
avveduta e prudente your caution and wariness
per tuo sol danno sei: are damaging you alone:
men saggia io ti vorrei. I would like you to be less judicious.
A che sprezzi gli ardori Why do you disdain the ardour
dei viventi amatori of living lovers
per attender conforti while expecting solace
dal cenere de’ morti? from the ashes of the dead?
Non fa torto chi gode a chi è sepolto. You are not wronging the dead if you enjoy yourself.
L’ossa del tuo marito The bones of your husband
estinto, incenerito, who is dead, turned to ashes,
del tuo dolor non san poco né molto; have no knowledge of your grief; and whoever
e chi attende pietà da morti è stolto. expects compassion from the dead is foolish.
La fede e la costanza Faithfulness and steadiness
son preclare virtù; le stima amante are sublime virtues;
vivo, e non l’apprezza a living lover esteems them
perché de’ sensi privo but, because he has no feelings,
un uom che fu. D’una memoria grata a dead man cannot appreciate them.
s’appagano i defunti, The dead are honoured by remembrance,
stanno i vivi coi vivi in un congiunti. but the living should stay with the living.
Un bel viso fa guerra, A beautiful woman causes trouble,
il guerriero costume al morto spiace, but the dead don’t want to fight
ché non cercan gli estinti altro che pace. for they seek only peace.
Langue sotto i rigori Your best years
de’ tuoi sciapiti amori are being wasted

59 63
la più fiorita età, in mourning, Dal
tua vedova beltà di te si duole, your widowed beauty bemoans that, sae
ché dentro ai lunghi pianti through continual weeping,
mostri sempre in acquario un sì bel sole. you always hide your beauty behind a veil of tears. Pen
Ama dunque, ché d’amore So love; for beauty Non
dolce amica è la beltà. is love’s sweet companion. chi
Dal piacere il tuo dolore Your grief will be pierced torn
saettato caderà. by pleasure’s arrows. chi

Penelope Penelope 10 Sce

Amor è un idol vano, Cupid is a useless idol, Eum
è un vagabondo nume, a gadabout god,
all’incostanze sue non mancan piume; whose fickleness is well known; Eum
del suo dolce sereno his sweet calm Com
è misura il baleno. Un giorno solo is fleeting. Joy can turn da s
cangia il piacer in duolo. to grief in one day. Meg
Sono i casi amorosi Romances like those che
di’ Tesei e di Giasoni ohimè son pieni of Theseus and Jason are full Seta
d’incostanza e rigore, of fickleness and strictness, i tra
pene e morte e dolore, torment and death and grief. È vi
dell’amoroso ciel splendori fissi The stars of an amorous heaven dell
san cangiar in Giason anche gli Ulissi. could make even Ulysses behave like Jason. la p
Melanto Melantho se s
Benché Aquilone infido Just because treacherous storms in v
turbi una volta il mar disturb the sea at times, Her
distaccarsi dal lido should the bold mariner nas
animoso nocchier non dée lasciar? never leave harbour? frutt
Sempre non guarda in ciel The stars will not always son
torva una stella, be contrary;
ha calma ogni procella. calm follows every storm.
Ama dunque, ché d’amore So love; for beauty
dolce amica è la beltà. is love’s sweet companion.

Dal piacere il tuo dolore Your grief will be pierced
saettato caderà. by pleasure’s arrows.

Penelope Penelope
Non dée di nuovo amar Never again should anyone love
chi misera penò: who has suffered so bitterly:
torna stolta a penar it is foolish to
chi prima errò. repeat one’s mistakes.

10 Scena XI Scene XI
Eumete Eumaeus

Eumete Eumaeus
Come mal si salva un regio ammanto A king’s mantle cannot protect
da sventure e da mali. from misadventure and evil!
Meglio scettri regali Tears bedew royal scepters more often
che dardi de’ pastor imperla il pianto. than shepherds’ staffs.
Seta vestono ed ori The greatest sufferings
i travagli maggiori. are clad in silk and gold.
È vita più sicura And more secure
della ricca ed illustre than the rich and illustrious life
la povera ed oscura. is the poor and obscure one.
Colli, campagne e boschi, Hills, fields and woods,
se stato human felicità contiene, if the human state contains happiness,
in voi s’annida il sospirato bene. it is in you that it nests.
Herbosi prati, in voi Grassy meadows, in you
nasce il fior del diletto, the flower of delight is born,
frutto di libertade in voi si coglie, the fruit of liberty is gathered from you,
son delizie dell’huom le vostre foglie. your leaves are man’s delight.

61 65
11 Scena XII Scene XII vo
Iro, Eumete Irus, Eumaeus pe

Iro Irus Ul
Pastor d’armenti può A keeper of sheep Se
prati e boschi lodar, can well praise meadows and woods, de
avvezzo nelle mandre a conversar. for he is used to talking to the flock. ac
Quest’herbe che tu nomini These herbs you have mentioned po
sono cibo di bestie e non degli huomini. are fodder for cattle, and not for man. og
Colà tra Regi io sto, I live there among kings, ne
tu fra gl’armenti qui. you here among the cattle. Gl
Tu godi e tu conversi tutto ’l dì You spend your days enjoying
amicizie selvatiche, and cultivating rustic friendships, Eu
io mangio i tuoi compagni, I eat your friends, Ho
pastor, e le tue pratiche. shepherd, and your work! co
Eumete Eumaeus fa
Iro, gran mangiatore, Irus, you big eater,
Iro, divoratore, Irus, you glutton, Ul
Iro, loquace, Irus, you windbag! Ul
mia pace non perturbar. do not disturb my peace. La
Corri, corri a mangiar, Run away to eat! Pe
corri, corri a crepar. Run away and die! Ch
12 Scena XIII Scene XIII cr
Eumete, poi Ulisse in sembianza di vecchio Eumaeus, then Ulysses disguised as an old man
Eumete Eumaeus Co
Ulisse generoso. Generous Ulysses! m
Fu nobile intrapresa Ransacking and incinerating cities Il m
lo spopolar, l’incenerir cittadi. were noble deeds. da
Ma forse il Ciel irato, But perhaps heaven, Se
nella caduta del Troiano regno, enraged at the demise of the Trojan kingdom, Ri

volle la vita tua demanded your life
per vittima al suo sdegno. as a sacrifice to its anger.

Ulisse Ulysses
Se del nomato Ulisse tu vegga in questo giorno If today you wish
desïato il ritorno, the return of the said Ulysses,
accogli questo vecchio take in this poor old man
povero, ch’a perduto who has lost
ogni mortal aiuto everything
nella cadente età, nell’aspra sorte. in his dotage, down on his luck.
Gli sia la tua pietà scorta alla morte. May your compassion sustain him until his death.

Eumete Eumaeus
Hospite mio sarai, You will be my guest,
cortese albergo avrai. you will be welcome.
Sono i mendici The beggars are
favoriti del Ciel, di Giove amici. favoured by Heaven, friends of Jupiter.

Ulisse Ulysses
Ulisse, Ulisse è vivo. Ulysses is alive!
La patria lo vedrà, His homeland will see him,
Penelope l’avrà. Penelope will embrace him;
Ch’il fato non fu mai d’affetto privo. for fate was never insensitive.
Maturano il destin le sue dimore, Time can change much;
credilo a me, pastore. believe me, shepherd!

Eumete Eumaeus
Come lieto t’accoglio, How happily I welcome you,
mendica deità. blessed beggar!
Il mio lungo cordoglio My long sorrow
da te vinto cadrà. will be assuaged by you.
Seguimi, amico, pur. Now follow me, friend;
Riposo avrai sicur. you will rest in safety.

CD2 Act 2


1 Sinfonia Sinfonia

2 Scena I Scene I
Telemaco e Minerva sul carro Telemachus and Minerva travelling by chariot

Telemaco Telemachus
Lieto cammino, Delightful travels,
dolce vïaggio. sweet journey,
Passa il carro divino the divine chariot rushes
come che fosse un raggio. as if it were a ray of light.

Minerva, Telemaco (a due) Minerva, Telemachus

Gli Dei possenti The mighty gods
navigan l’aure, sail on the breezes,
solcano i venti. plough the winds.

Minerva Minerva
Eccoti giunto alle paterne ville, You have arrived in your father’s domains,
Telemaco prudente. wise Telemachus.
Non ti scordar giammai de’ miei consigli, Never forget my advice,
ché se dal buon sentier devia la mente, for if your thoughts stray from the right path
incontrerai perigli. you will meet with dangers.

Telemaco Telemachus
Periglio invan mi sgrida Danger will try in vain to rebuke me
se tua bontà m’affida. if you grant me your benevolence.

3 Scena II Scene II Uli
Eumete, Ulisse, Telemaco Eumaeus, Ulysses, Telemachus Pa
si t
Eumete Eumaeus e la
O gran figlio d’Ulisse. O great son of Ulysses, ho
È pur ver che tu torni it is true you return
a serenar della tua madre i giorni. to bring cheer to your mother’s life. Eu
E pur sei giunto al fine And also you have finally returned Do
di tua casa cadente to repair the huge ravages liet
a riparar l’altissime ruine. of your crumbling home. s’e
Fugga il cordoglio, Let sorrow flee
fugga, e cessi il pianto. and lamenting come to an end. Te
Facciam, o peregrino, Let us, o wanderer, Va
all’allegrezze nostre honor col canto. honour our happiness with our singing. van
Eumete, Ulisse Eumaeus, Ulysses la g
Verdi piagge, al lieto giorno Herbs and flowers adorn this land
rabbellite herbette, e fiori, on this propitious day. 4 Sc
scherzin l’aure con gli amori, The breezes shall play with the cupids, Tel
ride il ciel al bel ritorno. heaven smiles at the joyous return. Sc
la t
Telemaco Telemachus
Vostri cortesi auspici a me son grati. I am thankful for your friendly wishes. Te
Manchevole piacer però m’alletta, But it is an incomplete pleasure that charms me, Ch
ch’esser paga non puote alma ch’aspetta. for a soul that is waiting cannot be satisfied. Qu
Eumete Eumaeus d’h
Questo che tu qui miri, This man whom you see here, di
sovra gli homeri stanchi bearing a great weight of years ma
portar gran peso d’anni, e mal involto on his weary shoulders, Ch
da ben laceri panni, egli m’accerta and poorly clad in torn garments, Du
che d’Ulisse il ritorno assures me that the return of Ulysses ad
fia di poco lontan da questo giorno. is imminent. Ris

Ulisse Ulysses
Pastor, se nol fia ver, ch’al tardo passo Shepherd, should this not be the truth, let the first
si trasformi in sepolcro il primo sasso, stone my weary foot meets turn into a grave,
e la morte, che meco amoreggia d’intorno, and let death, who is courting me,
hora porti a miei dì l’ultimo giorno. bring my llife to an end.

Eumete, Ulisse Eumaeus, Ulysses

Dolce speme i cor lusinga, Sweet hope lures the heart,
lieto annunzio ogn’alma alletta, happy news charms every soul,
s’esser paga non puote alma ch’aspetta. yet a soul that is waiting cannot be satisfied.

Telemaco Telemachus
Vanne pur tu veloce, Go quickly,
vanne, Eumete, alla reggia, e del mio arrivo go, Eumaeus, to the palace,
fa’ ch’avvisata sia and see that my mother is informed
la genitrice mia. of my arrival.

4 Scena III Scene III

Telemaco, Ulisse Telemachus, Ulysses
Scende dal Cielo un raggio di foco, onde s’apre A thunderbolt strikes from the Heavens, the earth
la terra e Ulisse si sprofonda. opens and swallows Ulysses

Telemaco Telemachus
Che veggio, oimé, che miro? What do I witness, alas, what do I behold?
Questa terra vorace i vivi inghiotte, This voracious earth devours the living,
apre bocche e caverne it opens mouths and caverns,
d’humano sangue ingorde, e più non soffre greedy for human blood, and no longer endures
di vïator il passo, the step of a wayfarer,
ma la carne dell’huom tranghiotte il sasso. but stone swallows the flesh of man.
Che prodigi son questi? What wonders are these?
Dunque, Patria, apprendesti Did you then learn, O fatherland,
a divorar le genti? how to devour people?
Rispondono anche ai vivi i monumenti? Do stones dispute with the living?

67 71
Così, dunque, Minerva Is this why you return me Tele
alla Patria mi doni? to my homeland, Minerva? Ben
Quest’è Patria comune, This is our joint homeland, di p
se di questo ragioni. if you remember. tras
Ma se presta ho la lingua, But while my tongue is quick, Tan
ho la memoria pigra. my memory is sluggish. Os
Quel pellegrin c’hor hora, This wanderer who just now, o pu
per dar fede a menzogne to give credibility to his lies,
chiamò sepolcri et invitò la morte, invoked tombs and invited death, Ulis
dal giusto Ciel punito has been punished by a just heaven Ulis
restò qui seppellito. Ah, caro Padre, and lies buried here. Ah, beloved father! Test
dunque in modo sì strano Thus, in such a strange manner, que
m’avvisa il tuo morire does heaven itself La f
il Ciel di propria mano? inform me of your death? perc
Ahi, che per farmi guerra Ah, in order to wage war on me
fa stupori e miracoli la terra. earth performs wonders and miracles! Tele
(Qui risorge Ulisse in sua propria forma.) (Here Ulysses rises again in his own guise) O fi
Ma che nuovi portenti, oimé, rimiro? But what new prodigy, alas, do I behold? peg
Fa cambio, fa permùta Death is altered, t’inc
con la morte la vita? transformed into life! ti st
Non sia più chi più chiami No more shall this demise Filïa
questa caduta amara, be called harsh, Pate
se col morir ringiovanir s’impara. if in dying one can be rejuvenated. a la
il pia
Ulisse Ulysses Mor
Telemaco, convienti Telemachus, ché
cangiar le meraviglie in allegrezze, you should change your wonderment into joy, Nat
ché se perdi il mendico, il padre acquisti. for if you lose the beggar you gain your father. L’im

Telemaco Telemachus
Benché Ulisse si vanti Although Ulysses
di prosapia celeste, descends from divine ancestry,
trasformarsi non puote huomo mortale. no human is able to transform himself;
Tanto Ulisse non vale. Ulysses is not so powerful.
O scherzano gli Dei, Either the gods are jesting,
o pur mago tu sei. or you are a magician!

Ulisse Ulysses
Ulisse, Ulisse sono. I am indeed Ulysses!
Testimonio è Minerva, Minerva is my witness,
quella che te portò per l’aria a volo. she who carried you, flying, through the air.
La forma cangia a me come le aggrada, She changes my appearance as she wishes
perché sicuro e sconosciuto io vada. so that I may travel safely and go unrecognized.

Telemaco, Ulisse Telemachus, Ulysses

O padre sospirato, O longed for father!
O figlio desïato, O desired son!
genitor glorïoso, Glorious parent!
pegno dolce amoroso, Sweet embodiment of love!
t’inchino, o mio diletto. I bow before you, oh my joy,
ti stringo. I embrace you.
Filïale dolcezza Filial tenderness
Paterna tenerezza Paternal tenderness
a lagrimar mi sforza. brings me to tears.
il pianto in me rinforza. makes me weep.
Mortal, tutto confida e tutto spera, Oh man, trust and hope,
ché quando il Ciel protegge, for when heaven protects you,
Natura non ha legge. nature has no jurisdiction;
L’impossibile ancor spesso s’avvera. the impossible can often come true.

69 73
Ulisse Ulysses Eu
Vanne alla madre, va’. Go to your mother, go! Pe
Porta alla reggia il piè. Make haste to the royal palace! ste
Sarò tosto con te, I will soon be with you, go
ma pria canuto il pel ritornerà. but first I must become an old man again. ch

5 Scena IV Scene IV Me
Reggia The palace Pe
Melanto, Eurimaco Melantho, Eurymachus ne
Melanto Melantho viv
Eurimaco, la donna, Eurymachus, that woman ella
insomma, ha un cor di sasso. has a heart of stone. am
Parola non la muove, Words do not move her; Fra
priego invan la combatte. I implored her in vain;
Dentro del mar d’amore she has hardened her soul Eu
sempre tenace ha l’alma. in her lovesickness; Go
O di fede, o d’orgoglio, whether through faithfulness or through pride si l
in ogni modo è scoglio. she is like a rock in every way.
Nemica, o pur amante, As an enemy or as a lover Me
non ha di cera il cor, ma di diamante. she has a heart not like wax but like diamond. Am
Eurimaco Eurymachus
E pur udii sovente And yet I have often heard 6 Sc
la poetica schiera poets singing of An
cantar donna volubile e leggiera. fickle and shallow women.
Melanto Melantho So
Ho speso invan parole, indarno prieghi I have wasted words, begged her in vain co
per condur la Regina a nuovi amori. trying to guide the queen to new loves. Trib
L’impresa è disperata, It is a hopeless endeavour: al m
odia, non ché l’amar, l’esser amata. she hates being loved as much as loving.

Eurimaco Eurymachus
Peni chi brama, Those who love will suffer,
stenti chi vuol, those who desire will find difficulties.
goda fra l’ombre Whoever hates the sun
chi ha in odio il sol. should find pleasure in the shadows.

Melanto Melantho
Penelope trionfa Penelope is majestic
nella doglia e nel pianto. in her grief and weeping.
Fra piaceri e contenti Melantho lives happily
vive lieta Melanto: between pleasures and joy.
ella in pene si nutre, io fra diletti She nourishes herself with pain,
amando mi giocondo. I amuse myself in the delights of love.
Fra sì varii pensier più bello è il mondo. The world is more beautiful because it is so varied.

Eurimaco Eurymachus
Godendo, ridendo Enjoying, laughing,
si lacera il duol. sorrow is destroyed.

Melanto Melantho
Amiamo, godiamo Let us love, let us take pleasure,
e dica chi vuol. whatever others say.

6 Scena V Scene V
Antinoo, Anfinomo, Pisandro, Penelope Antinous, Amphinomus, Peisander, Penelope

Antinoo Antinous
Sono l’altre Regine Other queens are
coronate de’ servi e tu d’amanti. surrounded by servants and you by lovers.
Tributan questi Regi These kings pay tribute
al mar di tua bellezza un mar di pianti. to the sea of your beauty with a sea of tears.

71 75
Antinoo, Anfinomo, Pisandro Antinous, Peisander, Amphinomus Pisa
Ama dunque, sì, sì, Love then, yes, yes, Il be
dunque riama un dì. love again one day. vive
Penelope Penelope Ma
Non voglio amar, no, no, I do not want to love, no, figlia
ch’amando penerò. for if I love I will suffer.
Antinoo, Anfinomo, Pisandro (a tre) Antinous, Peisander, Amphinomus L’ed
Ama dunque, sì, sì, Love then, yes, yes, ad o
dunque riama un dì. love again one day. d’un
se n
Penelope Penelope tra l
Cari tanto mi siete You are more charming
quanto più ardenti ardete. the more your ardour inflames you; Ant
Ma non m’appresso all’amoroso gioco but I will not enter the game of love, Ama
che lunge è bel più che vicino il foco. for fire is more beautiful when distant than when near. dun
Non voglio amar, no, no, I do not want to love, no,
ch’amando penerò. for if I love I will suffer. Pen
Anfinomo Amphinomus Com
La pampinosa vite The leafy vine, se f
se non s’abbraccia al faggio if it does not embrace the tree, da d
l’autun non frutta e non fiorisce il maggio. will not bear fruit in autumn or flower in May, cos
E se sfiorita resta and if it does not flower nel
ogni mano la coglie, every hand will gather it, Ma
ogni piè la calpesta. every foot will trample it. che

Pisandro Peisander
Il bel cedro odoroso The beautiful, fragrant cedar
vive, se non s’incalma, is, if not grafted,
senza frutto, spinoso. barren and thorny;
Ma se s’innesta poi but when grafted
figliano frutti e fior gli spini suoi. its thorns bring forth fruit and flowers.

Antinoo Antinous
L’edera che verdeggia, The ivy that is green even in winter
ad onta anco del verno with a beautiful
d’un bel smeraldo eterno, eternal emerald colour
se non s’appoggia perde if not supported, will lose
tra l’herbose ruine il suo bel verde. its beautiful green amidst the grassy ruins.

Antinoo, Anfinomo, Pisandro Antinous, Peisander, Amphinomus

Ama dunque, sì, sì, Love then, yes, yes,
dunque riama un dì. love again one day!

Penelope Penelope
Non voglio amar, non voglio. I don’t want to love, no!
Come sta in dubbio un ferro Just as a piece of iron
se fra due calamite between two magnets,
da due parti diverse egli è chiamato, is pulled in two different directions,
così sta in forse il core my heart cannot decide
nel tripartito Amore. among three lovers.
Ma non può amar chi non sa, chi non può But nobody can love when they know nothing
che pianger e penar. but tears and suffering.
Mestitia e dolor Sadness and grief
son crudeli nemici d’Amor. are the worst enemies of love.

73 77
7 Scena VI Scene VI ef
la s
Pisandro, Anfinomo, Antinoo (a tre) Antinous, Peisander, Amphinomus Uli
All’allegrezze dunque, al ballo, al canto. Then to enjoyments, to the dance, to song! il tu
Rallegriam la Regina. Let us cheer the queen. es
Lieto cor ad amar tosto s’inchina. A gay heart falls in love easily. il s

Pisandro, Anfinomo, Antinoo, Coro Antinous, Peisander, Amphinomus, Chorus Pe

Balliamo che l’onde Let’s dance as the waves Pe
al vento che spira as the blowing wind os
le move e l’aggira drives and turns them os
le spinge e confonde pushes and swirls them
si come lor fiede as it stops them 9 Sc
se movon il piede when they move An
e ballan le linfe and the waters dance
quai garuli Ninfe. like chattering Nymphs. An
Balliam che i vezzosi Let’s dance as the beautiful Co
bei fior rugiadosi dewy flowers vic
se l’aura li scuote as the breeze stirs vi c
con urti e con ruote they too seem to dance Tel
fan vaga sembianza turning and shaking. Qu
anch’essi di danza. Let’s dance and spin vio
Balliamo e giriamo rush and bound da
corriamo e saltiamo dancing teaches us tar
qual cosa è più degna what is most worthy. Ch
il ballo c’insegna. ne
in c
8 Scena VII Scene VII fu
Eumete, Penelope Eumaeus, Penelope Ho
Eumete Eumaeus da
Apportator d’alte novelle vengo. I come bearing important tidings:
È giunto, o gran Regina, great queen, Telemachus your son,
Telemaco tuo Figlio, has just arrived,

e forse non fia vana and perhaps I am not
la speme ch’io t’arreco. raising your hope in vain:
Ulisse, il nostro Rege, Ulysses our king,
il tuo consorte, è vivo, your husband, is alive,
e speriam non lontano and we hope his awaited return
il suo bramato arrivo. is not far off!

Penelope Penelope
Per sì dubbie novelle Such uncertain tidings
o s’addoppia il mio male, will either redouble my grief
o si cangia il tenor delle mie stelle. or change my fate.

9 Scena VIII Scene VIII

Antinoo, Anfinomo, Pisandro, Eurimaco Antinous, Amphinomus, Peisander, Eurymachus

Antinoo Antinous
Compagni, udiste? Il nostro Friends, did you hear?
vicin rischio mortale Our impending mortal danger
vi chiama a grandi e risolute imprese. must spur you to great and resolute deeds!
Telemaco ritorna, e forse Ulisse. Telemachus is returning, and perhaps Ulysses.
Questa reggia da voi This palace, violated
violata, ed offesa, and disrespected by you,
dal suo signor aspetta awaits from its master
tarda, bensì, ma prossima vendetta. belated but imminent vengeance.
Chi d’oltraggiar fu ardito, He who had the temerity to offend,
neghittoso non resti should not be slow in
in compir il delitto. In sin ad hora completing his crime. Up till now
fu il peccato dolcezza. transgression was pleasant.
Hora il vostro peccar fia sicurezza, Now your crime is certainty
che lo sperar favori è gran pazzia that it would be great foolishness
da chi s’offese pria. to hope for mercy from one
who was affronted in the past.

75 79
Pisandro, Anfinomo Amphinomus, Peisander Ant
N’han fatto l’opre nostre Our deeds have made us Dun
inimici d’Ulisse. enemies of Ulysses. il fili
L’oltraggiar l’inimico unqua disdisse. Offence to the enemy cannot be undone. per
Antinoo Antinous perc
Dunque l’ardir s’accresca, Then let our courage grow stronger,
e pria ch’Ulisse arrivi and before Ulysses arrives Eur
Telemaco vicin togliam dai vivi. let us kill Telemachus! L’or
Pisandro, Anfinomo, Antinoo Amphinomus, Peisander, Antinous Ogn
Sì, sì, de’ grand’amori Yes, yes, great loves tocc
sono figli i gran sdegni. engender great anger,
Quel fere i cori e quest’abbatte i regni. the former wound the heart, the latter destroys Pisa
kingdoms. Amo
(Qui vola sopra ’l capo dei Proci un’Aquila.) son
(Here an eagle flies over the suitors’ heads.) ma
Eurimaco Eurymachus
Chi dall’alto n’ascolta, He who listens from on high 10 Sce
hor ne risponde, amici. now answers, friends! Ulis
Mute lingue del Ciel sono gli auspici. The omens are mute messages of heaven.
Mirate, oimé, mirate Behold, alas, behold Ulis
del gran Giove l’augello the eagle of great Jupiter, Peri
ne predice ruine, it predicts ruin, chi
ne promette flagello. it promises punishment! A gr
Muova al delitto il piede, It would be wrong Ma
chi giusto il Ciel non crede. not to believe that Heaven is just. chi

Anfinomo, Pisandro, Antinoo Amphinomus, Peisander, Antinous

Crediam al minacciar del Ciel irato, We believe the threats of irate heaven,
ché, chi non teme il Cielo for whoever does not fear heaven
raddoppia il suo peccato. doubles his sin.

Antinoo Antinous
Dunque, prima che giunga Therefore, before her son
il filial soccorso, arrives to help her,
per abbatter quel core, let us, in order to win this heart,
facciam ai doni almen grato ricorso, at least appeal to her with gifts,
perch’ha la punta d’or lo stral d’Amore. for Cupid’s arrow has a tip of gold.

Eurimaco Eurymachus
L’oro sol, l’oro sia Let gold alone be
l’amorosa magia. Love’s enchantment.
Ogni cor femminil, se fosse pietra, Every woman’s heart, even of stone,
tocco dall’or si spetra. melts when touched by gold.

Pisandro, Anfinomo, Antinoo Amphinomus, Peisander, Antinous

Amor è un’armonia, Love is harmony, sighs are melodies,
sono canti i sospiri, but one does not sing well
ma non si canta ben se l’or non suona. if gold does not accompany:
Non ama chi non dona. he does not love who does not give presents.

10 Scena IX Scene IX
Ulisse, Minerva Ulysses, Minerva

Ulisse Ulysses
Perir non può chi tien per scorta il Cielo, Whoever has a god as his companion
chi ha per compagno un Dio. and Heaven as his guide cannot perish.
A grand’imprese, è ver, volto son io. I am indeed about to carry out great deeds.
Ma fa peccato grave But a man protected by Heaven
chi difeso dal Ciel il mondo pave. makes a grave mistake if he fears the world.

77 81
Minerva Minerva Ul
O coraggioso Ulisse. O brave Ulysses, Go
Io farò che proponga I shall make sure that rid
la tua casta consorte your chaste consort proposes Tu
giuoco che a te fia gloria a contest which will bring you glory be
e sicurezza e vittoria e a Proci morte. and sure victory as well as death to the suitors.
Allor che l’arco tuo ti giunge in mano When your bow reaches your hand Eu
e strepitoso tuon fiero t’invita, and resounding thunder summons you, To
saetta pur ché la tua destra ardita then shoot, so that your bold right hand ic
tutti conficcherà gli estinti al piano. plunges all the dead to the ground. Ve
Io starò teco, e con celeste lampo I will remain with you and with celestial lightning fie
atterrerò l’humanità soggetta. will fell the vanquished men: im
Cadran vittime tutti alla vendetta, they will all fall victim to your vengeance,
ché i flagelli del Ciel non hanno scampo. for Heaven’s wrath cannot be escaped! Ul
Ulisse Ulysses la
Sempre è cieco il mortale. Man is always blind. ch
Ma allor si dêe più cieco But more blind must he be
chi ’l precetto divin devoto osserva. who follows divine orders. 12 Sc
Io ti seguo, Minerva. I follow you, Minerva. Re
11 Scena X Scene X
Eumete, Ulisse Eumaeus, Ulysses Te
Eumete Eumaeus già
Io vidi, o pelegrin, de’ Proci amanti I saw, o wanderer, the amorous suitors Ho
l’ardir infermarsi, losing their boldness, de
l’ardore gelar, the ardour cooling la
negli occhi tremanti in their trembling eyes, M
il cor palpitar. I saw their fear. io
Il nome sol d’Ulisse The name of Ulysses alone de
quell’alme ree trafisse. pierced those guilty souls. ch

Ulisse Ulysses
Godo anch’io, né so come, I too rejoice, but don’t know how;
rido né so perché. I laugh, not knowing why.
Tutto gioisco, ringiovanisco, I am overjoyed,
ben lieto affé. rejuvenated by such happiness.

Eumete Eumaeus
Tosto c’havrem con povera sostanza As soon as we have fortified
i corpi invigoriti, andrem veloci. our bodies with a frugal meal, we shall make haste.
Vedrai di quei feroci You will see the haughty manner
fieri i costumi, i gesti and the immodest and corrupt customs
impudichi, inhonesti. of those savages.

Ulisse Ulysses
Non vive eterna l’arroganza in terra, Arrogance will not be allowed on earth forever;
la superbia mortal tosto s’abbatte, human arrogance is soon cut down,
ch’il fulmine del Ciel gli Olimpi atterra. for celestial thunderbolts overthrow rulers.

12 Scena XI Scene XI
Reggia The palace
Telemaco, Penelope Telemachus, Penelope

Telemaco Telemachus
Del mio lungo vïaggio i torti errori I have already narrated to you, O queen,
già vi narrai, Regina. the tortuous wanderings of my long journey.
Hora tacer non posso Now I can no longer be silent
della veduta Greca about the divine beauty
la bellezza divina. of the Greek woman I saw.
M’accolse Helena bella, Beautiful Helen received me;
io mirando stupii, I gazed at her wondering,
dentro a quei raggi immerso, as I plunged into those eyes,
che di Paridi pieno at how could the whole universe
non fosse l’universo. not be full of Parises;
Alla Figlia di Leda one Paris alone, I said,

un sol Paride, dissi, is too small a conquest Van
è poca preda. for Leda’s daughter. folle
Povere fur le stragi, The massacres were inadequate,
furon lievi gl’incendi a tanto foco. the blazes inadequate to such ardour. Tele
Ché se non arde un mondo, il resto è poco. Anything less than the whole world Non
Io vidi in que’ begl’occhi burning for her, is not enough. Hele
dell’incendio troiano I saw in those beautiful eyes nella
le nascenti scintille, the first sparks and the kindling flames circ
le bambine faville. of Troy’s blaze. dal
E ben prima potea, Any astrologer who had gazed Hele
astrologo amoroso, into those fiery eyes dell
da quei giri di foco could have predicted the flames tutta
profetar fiamme e indovinar ardori and prophesied the ardour ch’e
da incenerir città non men che cori, that could incinerate cities as well as hearts. dar
Paride, è ver, morì. Paris died, it is true,
Paride ancor gioì. yet Paris knew joy. 13 Sce
Con la vita pagar convenne l’onta, He fittingly paid for the affront with his life, Cor
ma così gran piacere but such great joy Ant
una morte non sconta. is not atoned with one death alone.
Si perdoni a quell’alma il grave fallo. Let that soul be pardoned its grave offence: Ant
La bella Greca porta the beautiful Greek woman Sem
nel suo volto beato carries in her blissful face sem
tutte le scuse del troian peccato. all the reasons for the Trojan shame. di p
Penelope Penelope ogg
Beltà troppo funesta, ardor iniquo Too baleful beauty, iniquitous passion ritro
di rimembranza indegno, unworthy of remembrance, Hai
disseminò lo sdegno which sowed indignation un n
non tra i fiori d’un volto, not through a beautiful face che
ma fra i strisci d’un angue. but through the coils of a serpent; non
Ché mostro è quell’amor che nuota in sangue. a love swimming in blood is monstrous.
Memoria così trista Let such a tragic memory
disperda pur l’oblio. be dispelled by oblivion.

Vaneggia la tua mente, Your mind is raving,
folleggia il tuo desio. your emotions are folly!

Telemaco Telemachus
Non per vana follia Not for pointless folly
Helena ti nomai, ma perché essendo did I mention Helen to you,
nella famosa Sparta but because, while I was in renowned Sparta,
circondato, improvviso, an agile and propitious bird
dal volo d’un augel destro e felice, suddenly circled above.
Helena, ch’è maestra Helen, who is well versed
dell’indovine scienze e degl’augúri, in occult science and in omens,
tutta allegra mi disse joyfully informed me
ch’era vicino Ulisse, e che dovea that Ulysses was near and that he would
dar morte ai Proci e stabilirsi il Regno. bring death to the suitors and restore his kingdom.

13 Scena XII Scene XII

Cortile regio dove si prepara un convito Palace courtyard, where a banquet is being
Antinoo, Eumete, Iro, Ulisse, e detti prepared. Antinous, Eumaeus, Irus, Ulysses

Antinoo Antinous
Sempre, villano Eumete, Eumaeus, you lout,
sempre t’ingegni you always manage
di perturbar la pace, to find ways to disturb our peace,
d’intorbidar la gioia, to spoil our pleasure,
oggetto di dolore, you are a pain, a troublemaker.
ritrovator di noia. You have brought here
Hai qui condotto un infesto mendico, an infested beggar,
un noioso importuno, an annoying intruder
che con sue voglie ingorde who, with his greedy cravings,
non farà che guastar le menti liete. will do nothing but ruin our happy mood.

81 85
Eumete Eumaeus trarr
L’ha condotto Fortuna Fortune has led him mos
alle case d’Ulisse, to the house of Ulysses,
ove pietà s’aduna. where compassion lives. Iro
E ch
Antinoo Antinous vec
Rimanga ei teco a custodir la gregge, Let him stay with you guarding the flocks i pe
e qui non venga, dove and don’t bring him here
civile nobiltà comanda e regge. where urbane nobility rules. Ulis
Eumete Eumaeus se d
Civile nobiltà non è crudele, Urbane nobility is not cruel; io n
né puote anima grande sdegnar pietà, the powerful cannot scorn compassion,
che nasce de’ regi tra le fasce. with which kings are endowed at birth. Ant
Antinoo Antinous d’un
Arrogante plebeo. Arrogant plebeian!
Insegnar opre eccelse A worthless man like you Tele
a te, vil huom, non tocca, should not preach; Il ca
né dêe parlar di Re villana bocca. a peasant’s mouth should not talk of kings. pele
E tu, pìcaro indegno, And you, unworthy vagabond,
fuggi da questo regno. leave this kingdom! Iro
Iro Irus com
Pàrtiti, movi il piè. Leave, move your feet!
Se sei qui per mangiar If you are here in order to eat, Ulis
son pria di te. I was here before you. La g
Ulisse Ulysses
Huomo di grosso taglio, O man of the huge girth, Iro
di larga prospettiva, of large bulk, Su,
benché canuto ed invecchiato sia, although hoary and aged alla
non è vile però l’anima mia. my soul is not cowardly.
Se tanto mi concede l’alta bontà regale, If royalty’s great generosity permits,

trarrò il corpaccio tuo sotto ’l mio piede, I shall trample your gross body under my feet,
mostruoso animale. you monstrous animal!

Iro Irus
E che sì, rimbambito guerriero, And you, senile warrior
vecchio importuno, e che sì, che ti strappo old troublemaker, what if
i peli della barba ad uno, ad uno. I pluck out the hairs of your beard one by one!

Ulisse Ulysses
Voglio perder la vita I wish to die
se di forza e di vaglia if I am not stronger and more courageous than you,
io non ti vinco or or, sacco di paglia. you sack of straw!

Antinoo Antinous
Vediam, Regina, in questa bella coppia Let’s watch, O queen, a grotesque wrestling match
d’una lotta di braccia stravagante duello. between this handsome couple.

Telemaco Telemachus
Il campo io t’assicuro, I give you permission,
pelegrin sconosciuto. unknown wanderer.

Iro Irus
Anch’io ti do franchigia, And I give you leave,
combattitor non barbuto. beardless fighter.

Ulisse Ulysses
La gran disfida accetto, I accept the challenge,
cavaliero panciuto. fat knight!

Iro (che fa alla lotta) Irus (preparing to wrestle)

Su, su, dunque, su, su, Now then!
alla ciuffa, alla lotta, su, su. To the fight, let’s wrestle!

83 87
(Segue la lotta nella quale dopo breve contrasto (The fight follows, in which after a short combat ben
Ulisse atterra Iro.) Ulysses vanquishes Irus.) che

Son vinto, oimé. I am defeated, alas! Anfi

Se t
Antinoo Antinous d’ac
Tu, vincitor, perdona You, the victor, be kind ben
a chi si chiama vinto. to the man who admits defeat. ed a
Iro, puoi ben mangiar, ma non lottar. Irus, you are a mighty eater, but not a good fighter. Que
Penelope Penelope con
Valoroso mendico, in corte resta, Brave beggar, remain at the court i mi
honorato e sicuro, respected and safe.
ché non è sempre vile A man clad in tattered and modest clothing Pen
chi veste manto povero ed oscuro. is not always worthless. Nob
Scena XIII Scene XIII l’art
Pisandro e Anfinomo sopraggiungono Peisander and Amphinomus arrive
Pisandro Peisander Il m
Generosa Regina, Beautiful queen, non
Pisandro a te s’inchina, e ciò che diede Peisander bows before you, L’an
larga e prodiga sorte, and what generous, Deit
dona a te, per te aduna lavish fate has given me e co
sua novella fortuna. I give to you to join a new fortune to yours. fa v
Questa regal corona This royal crown, e co
che di comando è segno symbol of sovereignty, t’off
ti lascia in testimon di ciò che dona. I give you as a token of my gifts.
Dopo il dono del core There is no greater gift Pen
non ha dono maggiore. than the gift of a heart. Non
Penelope Penelope Ché
Anima generosa, Generous soul, se n
prodigo cavaliere, extravagant nobleman, e do

ben sei d’impero degno, you are indeed a worthy ruler,
che non merita men chi dona un regno. for he who gives a kingdom deserves no less.

Anfinomo Amphinomus
Se t’invoglia il desio If you are inclined
d’accettar regni in dono, to accept kingdoms as a gifts,
ben so donar anch’io, then I too can give
ed anch’io rege sono. for I also am a king.
Queste pompose spoglie, This striking appearance,
questi regali ammanti this regal apparel,
confessano superbi bear proud witness
i miei ossequi, i tuoi vanti. to my adoration and your merits.

Penelope Penelope
Nobil contesa e generosa gara, A noble contest, a generous match
ove amator discreto from which a prudent suitor
l’arte del ben amar donando impara. can learn how to express love with gifts.

Antinoo Antinous
Il mio cor che t’adora, My heart, that adores you,
non ti vuol sua Regina. does not want you as its queen;
L’anima che s’inchina ad adorarti, the soul which bows to worship you
Deità vuol chiamarti, would call you a deity
e come Dea t’incensa coi sospiri, and, as goddess, sanctify you with sighs
fa vittime i desiri, and offers passion in sacrifice
e con quest’ori and with this gold
t’offre voti ed honori. offers vows and honours you.

Penelope Penelope
Non andran senza premio Such excellent deeds
opre cotanto eccelse. will not be unrewarded.
Ché donna quando dona For when a woman gives
se non è prima accesa al cor s’accende, if she is not already kindled, then her heart ignites
e donna quando toglie, and when a woman takes away

85 89
se non è prima resa al cor s’arrende. if she is not already vanquished, she surrenders. Pen
Hor t’affretta, Melanto, e qui m’arreca Now hurry, Melantho and bring me Ecc
l’arco del forte Ulisse e la faretra. the bow and quiver of the mighty Ulysses. anz
E chi sarà di voi And whoever amongst you che
con l’arco poderoso can most expertly shoot an arrow Pisa
saettator più fiero, with the powerful bow Chi
havrà d’Ulisse e la moglie e l’Impero. will win Ulysses’ wife and kingdom. sia ’

Telemaco Telemachus Pisa

Ulisse, e dove sei? Ulysses, where are you? Amo
Che fai? Che non ripari What are you doing? Why do you not redress hor
le tue perdite e in un gl’affanni miei? your losses, and at the same time my distress? ché
Penelope Penelope un a
Ma che, ma che promise But why did my mouth
bocca facile, ahi, troppo lightly make promises Il br
discordante dal core? so at odds with my heart? il po
Numi del Cielo, s’io ’l dissi, Gods in Heaven, if I said that, Ced
snodaste voi la lingua, apriste i detti. it was you who released my tongue col
Saran tutti del Cielo e delle Stelle and formed the words.
prodigiosi effetti. These must all be celestial machinations. Anfi
Pisandro, Anfinomo, Antinoo Amphinomus, Peisander, Antinous non
Lieta, soave gloria, Happy, sweet glory, se t
grata e dolce vittoria. satisfying and sweet victory! son
Cari pianti The charming tears Ch’
degli amanti, of lovers, neg
cor fedele, costante sen, a faithful heart, a steadfast heart Tu,
cangia ’l torbido in seren. change trouble to peace. il tri

Penelope Penelope
Ecco l’arco d’Ulisse, Here is Ulysses’ bow,
anzi l’arco d’Amor or rather the bow of Cupid
che dêe passarmi il cor. that must pierce my heart.
Pisandro, a te lo porgo. Peisander, I hand it to you:
Chi fu il primo a donar, he who was the first to give
sia ’l primo a saettar. shall be the first to shoot.

Pisandro Peisander
Amor, se fosti arciero in saettarmi, Cupid, if you were the archer who pierced me,
hor da’ forza a quest’armi, now give strength to this arm
ché vincendo dirò: that I may say in conquering:
s’un arco mi ferì, if one bow has wounded me,
un arco mi sanò. another will heal me.

Il braccio non vi giunge, My arm cannot do it,

il polso non v’arriva. my wrist cannot reach.
Ceda la vinta forza, My vanquished strength surrenders;
col non poter anco ’l desio s’ammorza. my passion weakens together with my might.

Anfinomo Amphinomus
Amor, picciolo nume, Cupid, little god,
non sa di saettar, knows not how to shoot:
se trafigge i mortali, if he pierces mortals, his darts
son le saette sue sguardi, non strali. are glances, not arrows.
Ch’a nume pargoletto The weapons of Mars refuse
negano d’obbedir l’arme di Marte. to obey a little child.
Tu, fiero Dio, le mie vittorie affretta, You, fierce god, hasten my victory;
il trionfo di Marte a te s’aspetta. the triumph of Mars will be yours!

87 91
Com’ intrattabile, How unyielding, Ulis
com’ indomabile how untamable Gio
l’arco si fa. is this bow! sem
Quel petto frigido, That cold heart com
protervo e rigido will remain defiant ad o
per me sarà. and unyielding to me. Reg
Antinoo Antinous ch’a
Cedan Marte ed Amore Mars and Cupid have no power Il gi
ove impera beltà. where beauty reigns. rinu
Chi non vince in honor non vincerà. Winning without honour is not winning.
Penelope, m’accingo Penelope, I gird myself for the supreme test Pen
in virtù del tuo bello all’alta prova. with the virtue of your beauty. Con
la p
Virtù, valor non giova. Strength and courage are not enough. Con
Forse forza d’incanto Perhaps the power of a spell con
contende il dolce vanto. fights against my merit. ché
Ah, ch’egli è vero ch’ogni cosa fedele Ah, it may be true that everything darà
ad Ulisse si rende, proves faithful to Ulysses,
e sin l’arco d’Ulisse and even Ulysses’ bow Ulis
Ulisse attende. is awaiting Ulysses! Que
Penelope Penelope Le v
Son vani, oscuri pregi Vain and empty s’a
i titoli de’ regi. are the titles of kings;
Senza valor, il sangue, Without valour, lineage Pisa
ornamento regale, and trappings of royalty Mer
illustri scettri a sostener non vale. are not enough to sustain illustrious sceptres.
Chi simile ad Ulisse Whoever lacks Ulysses’ strength Ulis
virtude non possiede, is an unworthy heir Gio
de’ tesori d’Ulisse è indegno erede. to Ulysses’ treasures. Cos

Ulisse Ulysses
Gioventude superba The arrogance of youth
sempre valor non serba, does not always imply bravery,
come vecchiezza humìle just as humble old age
ad ognor non è vile. is not always cowardly.
Regina, in queste membra O queen! In this body
tengo un’alma sì ardita I have a soul so bold
ch’alla prova m’invita. that it pushes me to the test.
Il giusto non eccedo, I will not ask more than is legitimate:
rinunzio il premio, e la fatica io chiedo. I renounce the reward but ask for the trial.

Penelope Penelope
Concedasi al mendico Grant the beggar
la prova faticosa. the difficult trial!
Contesa glorïosa, A glorious contest
contro petti virili d’un fianco antico, of an aged frame against these virile chests,
ché tra rossori involti, although humilated
darà ’l foco d’Amor, vergogna ai volti. Love’s flame will make them blush.

Ulisse Ulysses
Questa mia destra humìle My humble right hand,
s’arma a tuo conto, o Cielo. arms itself on your behalf, O heaven!
Le vittorie apprestate, o sommi Dei, Prepare my victory, O mighty gods,
s’a voi son cari i sacrifizi miei. if my trials are dear to you!

Pisandro, Anfinomo, Antinoo (a tre) Amphinomus, Peisander, Antinous

Meraviglie, stupori, prodigi estremi. Wonder, astonishment, miraculous in the extreme!

Ulisse Ulysses
Giove nel suo tuonar grida vendetta. Jupiter with his thunder cries calls for vengeance.
Così l’arco saetta. So the bow shoots.
Alle morti, alle stragi, alle ruine. To death, to slaughter, to destruction!

89 93
CD3 Act 3


1 Scena I Scene 1
Iro Irus

Iro Irus
O dolor, o martir che l’alma attrista. Oh grief, oh torment that oppresses the soul!
O mesta rimembranza Oh woeful memory
di dolorosa vista. of a dismal sight!
Io vidi i Proci estinti, I saw the suitors dead:
i Proci, i Proci furo uccisi. the suitors were slain.
Ah, ch’io perdei Alas, I have lost the delights
le delizie del ventre e della gola. of the belly and of my gluttony!
Chi soccorre il digiun, Who will aid a starving man,
chi lo consola? who will console him?
Con flebile parola. Oh for a gentle word!
I Proci, Iro, perdesti. You have lost the suitors, Irus,
I Proci, i padri tuoi. the suitors, your fathers.
Sgorga pur quanto vuoi Cry as much as you will,
lagrime amare, e meste, bitter and woeful tears,
ché padre è chi ti ciba e chi ti veste. for your father is he who feeds and clothes you.
Chi più della tua fame Who will ever
satollerà le brame? satisfy your hunger again?
Non troverai chi goda You will not find anyone who takes delight
empir del vasto ventre in filling the hungry caverns
l’affamate caverne. of your vast belly;
Non troverai chi rida you will not find anyone who laughs
del ghiotto trionfar della tua gola. at the greedy display of your gluttony.
Chi soccorre il digiun, Who will aid a starving man,
chi lo consola? who will console him?
Infausto giorno a mie ruine armato. Unhappy day, bent on my ruin:
Poco diansi mi vinse un vecchio ardito, a little earlier, a bold old man vanquished me,
hor m’abbatte la fame, and now I have no food,
dal cibo abbandonato. hunger defeats me.

L’hebbi già per nemica, It was already my enemy, Eu
l’ho distrutta, l’ho vinta. I destroyed it, I overcame it; Il c
Hor troppo fora Now I cannot bear to il p
vederla vincitrice. see it victorious. ch
Voglio uccider me stesso e non vo’ mai I want to kill myself, and never allow it co
ch’ella porti di me trionfo e gloria. to claim triumph and glory at my expense. ral
Chi si toglie al nemico ha gran vittoria. For to elude an enemy is a great victory.
Coraggioso mio core, My brave heart, Pe
vinci il dolore, e pria overcome the pain Cre
ch’alla fame nemica egli soccomba and before it succumbs to hostile hunger, è la
vada il mio corpo a disfamar la tomba. may my body be swallowed by a grave! de

2 Scena IV Scene IV Eu
Eumete, Penelope Eumaeus, Penelope Uli
Eumete Eumaeus
Forza d’occulto affetto May the power of hidden feelings Pe
raddolcisce il tuo petto. soften your heart. Re
Chi con un arco solo, The unknown man who, with a single bow, co
isconosciuto, diede killed hundreds,
a cento morti il duolo, this strong, sturdy man Eu
quel forte e quel robusto who tamed the bow and let the arrows fly, Dic
che domò l’arco e fé volar gli strali, who bravely pierced Io
colui che i Proci insidïosi e felli the treacherous and ruthless suitors – No
valoroso trafisse, rejoice, O queen – Uli
rallègrati, Regina, egli era Ulisse. that man was Ulysses!
Penelope Penelope Io
Sei buon pastor, Eumete, What a good shepherd you are, Eumaeus, pe
se persuaso credi if you don’t trust
contro quello che vedi. what you see.

Eumete Eumaeus
Il canuto, l’antico, The hoary old man,
il povero, il mendico, the pauper, the beggar,
che coi Proci superbi who courageously attacked
coraggioso attaccò mortali risse, the proud suitors in mortal combat –
rallègrati, Regina, egli era Ulisse. rejoice, O queen – he was Ulysses!

Penelope Penelope
Credulo è il volgo e sciocco, People are credulous and gullible,
è la tromba mendace and they wrongly repeat
della fama fallace. false rumours.

Eumete Eumaeus
Ulisse io vidi, sì, I saw Ulysses, yes!
Ulisse è vivo, è qui. Ulysses is alive, he is here!

Penelope Penelope
Relator importuno, Tiresome messenger,
consolator nocivo. pernicious comforter!

Eumete Eumaeus
Dico che Ulisse è qui. I tell you Ulysses is here!
Io stesso il vidi e ’l so. I know because I myself saw him.
Non contenda il tuo no con il mio sì. Don’t contradict me:
Ulisse è vivo, è qui. Ulysses is alive, and here!

Penelope Penelope
Io non contendo teco I will not argue with you,
perché sei stolto e cieco. because you are foolish and blind.

93 97
3 Scena V Scene V Pe
Telemaco, Penelope Telemachus, Penelope No
Telemaco Telemachus de
È saggio Eumete, è saggio. Eumaeus is right, he is right! La
È ver quel che racconta. What he tells is true: Fig
Ulisse, a te consorte ed a me padre, Ulysses, your husband and my father,
ha tutte uccise le nemiche squadre. has killed all the enemies. 4 Sc
Il comparir sotto mentito aspetto, His appearance in disguise, Mi
sotto vecchia sembianza, in the semblance of an old man,
arte fu di Minerva, e fu suo dono. was the work and gift of Minerva. Mi
Penelope Penelope foc
Troppo egli è ver che gli huomini qui in terra Too often, indeed, must men here on earth No
servon di gioco agl’immortali Dei. serve as playthings of the immortal gods. inc
Se ciò credi ancor tu, lor giuoco sei. If you believe that, you too are playing their game. off
Il p
Telemaco Telemachus co
Volle così Minerva Minerva wished this, Uli
per ingannar con le sembianze finte to deceive Ulysses’ enemies
gl’inimici d’Ulisse. with a disguise. Giu
Penelope Penelope og
Se d’ingannar gli Dei prendon diletto, If the gods take pleasure in deceiving, Va
chi far fede mi puote who can make me believe an
che non sia mio l’inganno, that I am not deceived too,
se fu mio tutto il danno? since I am the one who has suffered? Mi
Telemaco Telemachus na
Protettrice de’ Greci Minerva, as you know de
è, come sai, Minerva, is the Greeks’ protector, so
e più che gli altri Ulisse and nobody is as dear to her Co
a lei fu caro. as Ulysses. il v

Penelope Penelope
Non han tanto pensiero The gods in heaven
gli Dei, là sù nel cielo, don’t give much thought
delle cose mortali. to human vicissitudes.
Lasciano ch’arda il foco e agghiacci il gelo. They allow fire to burn and ice to freeze.
Figlian le cause lor piaceri e mali. Their quarrels spawn joy and misery.

4 Scena VI Scene VI
Minerva, Giunone Minerva, Juno

Minerva Minerva
Fiamma è l’ira, o gran Dea, Wrath is flame, O great goddess,
foco è lo sdegno. indignation is fire.
Noi, sdegnose ed irate, In our wrath and indignation
incenerito habbiam di Troia il regno, we have burned down the kingdom of Troy,
offese da un troian, ma vendicate. slighted by a Trojan, but avenged.
Il più forte fra greci ancor contende The mightiest of the Greeks still struggles
co’l destin, con il fato, with destiny, with fate:
Ulisse addolorato. sorrowful Ulysses.

Giunone Juno
Per vendetta che piace For a satisfying vengeance
ogni prezzo è leggiero. no price is too high.
Vada il troiano impero May the Trojan empire
anco in peggio di polvere fugace. disappear like dust!

Minerva Minerva
Dalle nostre vendette His transgressions were
nacquero in lui gli errori, caused by our vengeance;
delle stragi dilette his suffering born
son figli i suoi dolori. from the glorious massacres.
Convien al nostro nume It befits our sovereign god
il vindice salvar, placar gli sdegni to save the avenger, to placate the anger
del Dio de’ salsi regni. of the god of the brackish realms.

95 99
Giunone Juno sd
Procurerò la pace, I will obtain peace, Fu
ricercherò il riposo pursue serenity So
d’Ulisse glorioso. for glorious Ulysses. Pe
Minerva Minerva Ne
Per te, del sommo Giove Because of you, sister and consort ON
e sorella, e consorte, of Jupiter the highest, il s
s’aprono nove in ciel divine porte. new gates will open in Heaven. Ec
5 Scena VII Scene VII
Giunone, Giove, Nettuno, Coro in cielo, Juno, Jupiter, Neptune, Choir in Heaven, Ne
Coro marittimo e dette Choir of the Sea Se
Giunone Juno ma
Gran Giove, alma de’ Dei, Dio delle menti, Great Jupiter, soul of the gods, god of reason, ne
mente dell’Universo, mastermind of the universe, ne
tu che ’l tutto governi e tutto sei, you who rule everything and encompass everything, il d
inchina le tue grazie a prieghi miei. graciously fulfil my prayers. Co
Ulisse troppo errò, Ulysses has wandered for too long, mi
troppo, ahi, troppo soffrì, too long, ah, too long has he suffered: Pa
tornalo in pace un dì. restore him to peace one day. la n
Fu divin il voler che lo destò. It was a divine will that roused him, Viv
Ulisse troppo errò. Ulysses has wandered too much. viv

Giove Jupiter Co
Per me non havrà mai To me you will never Gio
vota preghiera Giuno, pray in vain, Juno, fa
ma placar pria conviensi but first wrathful Neptune must be placated. ne
lo sdegnato Nettuno. Hear me, god of the sea!
Odimi, o Dio del mar. Here, where fate is decreed, Co
Fu scritto qui, dove il destin s’accoglie, the day of the Trojan massacre was ordered. Be
dell’eccidio troiano il fatal punto. Now that the ordained one no
Hor, ch’al suo fine il destinato è giunto, has reached his destination, pie

sdegno ozioso un gentil petto invoglia. let anger subside and kindness enter your breast.
Fu ministro del Fato Ulisse il forte. Ulysses was a servant of fate:
Soffrì, vinse, pugnò, campion celeste. the hero suffered, conquered, fought
Per lui, mentre di cenere si veste, as a champion of heaven.
cittadina di Troia, errò la Morte. Because of him, death
Nettun, pace, walked the streets of Troy clothed in ashes.
O Nettun, Nettun, perdona Neptune, peace O Neptune!
il suo duolo al mortal ch’afflitto il rese. Relieve this man of his suffering.
Ecco, scrive il destin le sue difese. Here destiny writes his defence;
Non è colpa dell’huom se ’l Cielo tuona. it is not man’s fault if heaven inveighs.

Nettuno Neptune
Se ben quest’onde frigide, Well may these waves be frigid,
se ben quest’onde gelide well may these waters be icy,
mai sentono l’ardor di tua pietà, but they feel the warmth of your mercy.
nei fondi algosi ed infimi, Jupiter’s decree is heard
nei cupi acquosi termini even in the abysses rich in seaweed,
il decreto di Giove anco si sa. and in the dark watery depths.
Contro i Feaci arditi e temerari Against the daring, rash Phaeacians
mio sdegno si sfogò. I gave vent to my wrath;
Pagò il delitto pessimo the terrible offence was paid for
la nave che restò. by their petrified ship.
Viva felice pur, May he live happily,
viva Ulisse sicur. may Ulysses live in safety!

Coro in cielo Choir in Heaven

Giove amoroso The loving Jupiter
fa il Ciel pietoso makes heaven merciful
nel perdonar. with his forgiveness.

Coro marittimo Choir of the Sea

Ben ch’abbia il gelo In spite of its coldness,
non men del Cielo no less merciful
pietoso il mar. than heaven is the sea.

97 101
Coro in cielo, Coro marittimo Both choirs sco
Prega, mortal, deh, prega, Pray, mortal, oh pray, Be
ché sdegnato e pregato un Dio si piega. for a wrathful god can be placated through prayer. Èf
il p
Giove Jupiter co
Minerva, hor fia tua cura Minerva, now your task Ma
d’acquetar i tumulti is to quell the uprising ass
de’ sollevati Achivi, of the Achaeans, Be
ché per vendetta degli estinti Proci who, in vengeance for the death of the suitors, tos
pensano portar guerra intend to wage war Un
all’Itacense terra. against Ithaca. ce
Minerva Minerva Tac
Rintuzzerò quei spirti, I shall calm these feelings, In
smorzerò quegli ardori, I shall smother those flames,
comanderò la pace, I shall command peace, 7 Sc
Giove, come a te piace. Jupiter, as you wish. Pe

6 Scena VIII Scene VIII Pe

Reggia The palace Og
Ericlea Eurycleia No
Ericlea Eurycleia de
Ericlea, che vuoi far? Eurycleia, what should you do? Le
Vuoi tacer, o parlar? Will you be silent or speak?
Se parli, tu consoli. If you speak, you bring comfort, Te
Obbedisci, se taci. but you were ordered to be silent. Tro
Sei tenuta a servir, You are bound in service, Tro
obbligata ad amar. yet pledged to love. Èp
Vuoi tacer, o parlar? Will you be silent or speak? ch
Ma ceda all’obbedienza la pietà. But let pity yield to obedience:
Non si dêe sempre dir ciò che si sa. one must not tell all one knows. Te
Medicar chi languisce, o, che diletto. To heal the suffering, oh what pleasure! Ec
Ma che ingiurie e dispetto But what injury and outrage e la

scoprir l’altrui pensier. to disclose the thoughts of others;
Bella cosa talvolta è un bel tacer. the best thing is sometimes silence.
È ferita crudele It is cruel
il poter con parole to be able, with words,
consolar chi si duole, e non lo far. to console one who is suffering and not do it;
Ma del pentirsi al fin but in the end
assai lunge è il tacer, più che ’l parlar. one regrets silence less than speaking out.
Bel segreto taciuto A beautifully kept secret
tosto scoprir si può. can soon be revealed,
Una sol volta detto but once it is told,
celarlo non potrò. it can no longer be concealed.
Ericlea, che farai? Eurycleia, what will you do,
Tacerai tu? will you keep silent?
In somma un bel tacer mai scritto fu. After all, complete silence was never ordered.

7 Scena IX Scene IX
Penelope, Telemaco, Eumete Penelope, Telemachus, Eumaeus

Penelope Penelope
Ogni vostra ragion sen porta ’l vento. The wind has blown away your mind.
Non ponno i vostri sogni Your fantasies cannot
consolar le vigilie comfort the sleepless nights
dell’anima smarrita. of a lost soul.
Le favole fan riso e non dan vita. Fairytales entertain, but they are not real.

Telemaco, Eumete Telemachus, Eumaeus

Troppo incredula, troppo. She is too incredulous!
Troppo ostinata, troppo. Too stubborn!
È più che vero, di vero è più It is indeed true, it is more than true
che ’l vecchio arciero Ulisse fu. that the aged archer was Ulysses.

Telemaco Telemachus
Eccolo che sen viene, Here he comes
e la sua forma tiene. in his own guise.

99 103
Eumete Eumaeus Uli
Ulisse, Ulisse egli è. It is Ulysses. In
Telemaco Telemachus vo
Eccolo affé. He is here indeed! Pe

8 Scena X e ultima Scene X Pe

Ulisse in sua forma, Penelope, Ericlea Ulysses in his true form, Penelope, Eurycleia Qu
Ulisse Ulysses ca
O delle mie fatiche Oh sweet and gentle reward de
meta dolce e soave, of all my trials, Qu
porto caro, amoroso, beloved haven il d
dove corro al riposo. where I seek to rest!
Penelope Penelope Qu
Férmati, Cavaliero, Halt, knight, de
incantator o mago. enchanter or magician! res
Di tue finte mutanze io non m’appago. I am not fooled by your transformations. de
Ulisse Ulysses
Così del tuo consorte, Will you thus Pe
così dunque t’appressi receive the long awaited No
ai lungamente sospirati amplessi? embrace of your husband? ch
Penelope Penelope
Consorte io sono, ma del perduto Ulisse, I am the spouse of the lost Ulysses, Eri
né incantesimi o magie neither spells nor magic Ho
perturberan la fé, le voglie mie. will shake my faithfulmess and my will. Èq

Ulisse Ulysses
In honor de’ tuoi rai For your beauty
l’eternità sprezzai, I willingly relinquished immortality,
volontario cangiando e stato, e sorte. changing my standing and my destiny.
Per serbarmi fedel son giunto a morte. To remain faithful I have made myself mortal.

Penelope Penelope
Quel valor che ti rese That bravery which makes you
ad Ulisse simìle, similar to Ulysses
care mi fa le stragi makes me thankful for the slaughter
degli amanti malvagi. of the wicked suitors.
Questo di tua bugia This shall be the welcome result
il dolce frutto sia. of your lie.

Ulisse Ulysses
Quell’Ulisse son io, I am that Ulysses,
delle ceneri avanzo, risen out of the ashes,
residuo delle morti, death’s survivor,
degli adùlteri e ladri fierce castigator of adulterers and thieves
fiero castigator, e non seguace. and not their companion.

Penelope Penelope
Non sei tu ’l primo ingegno, You are not the first to try
che con nome mentito, and gain power or a kingdom
tentasse di trovar comando o Regno. under false pretences

Ericlea Eurycleia
Hor di parlar è tempo. Now it is time to speak out.
È questo Ulisse, This is truly Ulysses, chaste and great lady.
casta e gran donna, io lo conobbi all’hora I recognized him
che nudo al bagno venne, ove scopersi when he undressed to be bathed,
del feroce cinghiale so I discovered the scar
l’honorato segnale. caused by the ferocious wild boar.

101 105
Penelope Penelope Pen
Creder ciò che desio m’insegna Amore, Love instructs me to believe what I wish for, Illus
serbar costante il sen comanda honore. but honour commands my heart to be steadfast. rinfi
Dubbio pensier che fai? Doubts, what are you doing? Aure
La fé negata ai prieghi I did not give credence to the pleas Gl’a
del buon custode Eumete, of the good shepherd Eumaeus, i riv
di Telemaco il figlio, of Telemachus, my son, Que
alla vecchia nutrice anco si nieghi. so I shall do the same for the old nurse. que
Ch’il mio pudico letto For my chaste bed già
sol d’Ulisse è ricetto. can receive Ulysses alone. dal

Ulisse Ulysses Ulis

Del tuo casto pensiero io so ’l costume. I know your chaste custom. Sos
So che ’l letto pudico, I know that the modest bed, Rinn
che, tranne Ulisse solo, altro non vide, which has seen no man Por
ogni notte da te s’adorna e copre other than Ulysses, Bra
con un serico drappo is every night bedecked and covered by you Per
di tua mano contesto, in cui si vede with a silken cloth woven by your own hand, a be
co’l virginal suo coro depicting Diana Non
Diana effigiata. with her virginal companions. più
M’accompagnò mai sempre Such dear memory tutto
memoria così grata. stayed with me always. Fug
Penelope Penelope tutto
Hor sì ti riconosco, hor sì ti credo Now, yes, I recognize you, Del
antico possessore now, yes, I believe you, ven
del combattuto core. early owner of my embattled heart. Sì, v
Honestà mi perdoni, May modesty forgive me!
dono tutte ad Amor le sue ragioni. I give in to Cupid.

Ulisse Ulysses
Sciogli la lingua, deh, sciogli Untie your tongue,
per allegrezza i nodi, release the constraints,
un sospir, un oimé la voce snodi. let your voice release a regret and a sigh.

Penelope Penelope
Illustratevi o cieli, Shine, O skies,
rinfioratevi o prati, flower, O meadows!
Aure gioite. Rejoice, you breezes!
Gl’augelletti cantando, The singing birds,
i rivi mormorando hor si rallegrino. the murmuring brooks shall rejoice!
Quell’herbe verdeggianti, The green grass, the rippling waves
quell’onde sussurranti hor si consolino, can take solace.
già ch’è sorta felice For my Phoenix arises
dal cenere troian la mia fenice. joyously from the Trojan ashes.

Ulisse, Penelope Ulysses, Penelope

Sospirato mio sole. My longed-for sun!
Rinnovata mia luce. My restored light!
Porto quieto e riposo. Calm haven and rest!
Bramato, sì, ma caro. Yearned for, yes, but beloved.
Per te gl’andati affanni For you I learn to bless
a benedir imparo. the tribulations I went through.
Non si rammenti Forget
più de’ tormenti, all the suffering,
tutto è piacer. everything is joy.
Fuggan dai petti May our hearts
dogliosi affetti, shun sadness.
tutto è goder. Everything is delight.
Del piacer, del goder The time of happiness,
venuto è ’l dì. of rejoicing has finally come.
Sì, vita, sì, sì, core, sì, sì. Yes, my life, yes, yes, my heart, yes, yes!

103 107
Monteverdi Choir English Baroque Soloists

Tenors Violins Cello

Hugo Hymas Kati Debretzeni Marco Frezzato
Graham Neal Iona Davies
Henry Tong Viola da Gamba (dbl. Lirone)
Basses Kinga Gaborjani
Alexander Ashworth Anne Schumann
Samuel Evans Henrietta Wayne Double Bass
Lawrence Wallington Davina Clarke Valerie Botwright

and the cast Viola Harpsichord / Organ

Fanny Paccoud Antonio Greco
Lisa Cochrane Paolo Zanzu
Aliye Cornish
Malgorzata Ziemkiewicz Lute (4 dbl. guitar)
David Miller
Recorders Elizabeth Kenny
Rachel Beckett Eligio Quinteiro
Catherine Latham Josias Rodriquez Gandara

Dulcian Harp
Gyorgyi Farkas Gwyneth Wentink

Jamie Savan
Richard Thomas

SDG wishes to thank The National Forum of Music, Wrocław, ‘The National Forum of Music Re
SDG wishes to thank The National ForumPoland of Music, Wrocław, ‘The National
for their generous support of this recording. Forum of Music Recorded live on has an immediate
in Wrocław 7,
Poland for their generous support of this recording. in Wrocław has an immediate 7, 8 and 9
warmth, September
which you 2017 feel in at
The National Forum of Music in Wrocław is a state-of-the-artwhich you feel in at The National Forum
your body. I would of love to M
The National Forum of Music in Wrocławconcert is a state-of-the-art
venue, including, among your others,
body. I four would love tohalls,
concert Musicdo in Wrocław,
my recordingsPoland.
concert venue, including, among others,with four the concert halls, do my recordings
main hall seating 1800 people. The four auditoriums here.’ Iván Fischer, Founder So
with the main hall seating 1800 people. The can fourboast auditoriums
of excellent acoustics. Iván The
NFMFounder is also a progressiveSoundand engineer:
Music Director of the M
can boast of excellent acoustics. The NFM is also a progressive and Music
performing arts organisation whose aim is to propagate active Director of the Mike Hatch
Budapest Festival Orchestra As
performing arts organisation whose aim is to propagate
participation active life among
in cultural BudapestWrocław Festival Orchestra
citizens and Assistant engineers: Ja
participation in cultural lifeSDG
among wishesWrocław visitors to the city. The intensive educational and promotional James
to thank Thecitizens
National and
Forum of Music, Wrocław, ‘The National Forum of Music Recorded‘ItWaterhouse
is one
live on of the best concert Ri
visitors to the city. The intensive
Poland for educational
their generousand promotional
support of this recording.
activities have resulted in eight festivals ‘It is one of
in the
Wrocław besthas concert
an immediate Richard Bland
7, 8 and 9 September
being presented by the at The National halls inForumthe 2017
world.’ Ed
warmth, which you feel in of
activities have resulted in eight festivals being
NFM presented
(including by
the the
The National Forum of Music in Wrocław is a state-of-the-art
halls in
Markowski the world.’
your body. I would love toFestival Editor: Stephen
Lang Lang, Frost
Music in Wrocław, Poland. pianist Pr
NFM (including the AndrzejconcertMarkowski International
venue, including, Festival
among others, Lang
four concert year Lang,
hosting do my pianist
the most outstanding
recordings here.’ Producer: Isabella de Sabata Ed
Wratislavia Cantans), eachwith yearthehosting the
main hall seating
Polishmost1800 outstanding
andpeople. The four auditoriums
can boast of excellent acoustics. The NFM is also a progressive
artists. The venue itself has become Edition:
Iván Fischer, Founder
and Music Director of the
‘A Bärenreiter
Sound engineer:
Mike Hatch
visit to Wrocław which De
Polish and international artists. The venue itself
a meeting
performing arts organisation
aim isfor
various artistic
to propagate
to Wrocław
Budapest not which
only Orchestra
Festival musical. Design: does
not include the NFM
engineers: Li
a meeting place for variousparticipation
artistic genres, Thenot
in cultural NFM
life onlyis musical.
among home to
Wrocław and does
11 resident
citizens not includeNFM
ensembles: the NFMWrocław Librettowouldtranslation
James Waterhouse be akincourtesy
to going of
The NFM is home to 11 resident ensembles:
visitors to the city. The NFM Wrocław
Philharmonic, educational
NFM and would
Leopoldinum be akin toWrocław
Orchestra, is one ofgoing Baroque of Boston
the best concert Richard Bland
to Baroque,
Rome and adapted
skipping by
activities have resulted in eight festivals being presented by the halls in the world.’ Editor: Stephen Frost
Philharmonic, NFM Leopoldinum Orchestra,
NFM (including the Orchestra,
Andrzej Markowski NFM Baroque
Choir, NFM
to Rome
Festival Choir,and Lang,
by Isabella
pianist Quartet, Producer:StIsabellade de
Peter’s.’ Sabata
and An
Orchestra, NFM Choir, NFM Boys’ Choir,
Wratislavia Cantans), Lutosławski
each yearQuintet, Quartet,
hosting theNFM St Peter’s.’
Ensemble, NFM Leopoldinum String
most outstanding Antony Peattie
Bärenreiter Sutherland, Pr
LutosAir Quintet, NFM Ensemble,
Polish and NFM Leopoldinum
Trio, Polish String
artists. The venue
Cello Jonathan
itself has become
Quartet, and Wrocław ‘A Sutherland,
visit to Wrocław which
Baroque Ensemble. Programme
Design: Untitled note translations: Je
does not include the NFM Libretto translation courtesy
Trio, Polish Cello Quartet, aThemeeting place for various artistic genres, not only musical.
and Wrocław Baroque
NFM is home to The Ensemble.
11 resident ForumNFM
ensembles: of Music’s
Wrocław recording wouldcatalogue
be akin to goingcontinues Jens Berger, Dennis Collins
of Boston Baroque, adapted Co
The National Forum of Music’s recording
Philharmonic, NFMto catalogue
Leopoldinum continues
grow, and each year sees the release of several new CDs
Orchestra, Wrocław Baroque to Rome and skipping Cover
by image:
Isabella Michele
de Sabata and Crosera / Fo
to grow, and each year sees the release
Orchestra, of
NFM Choir, several
NFM Boys’ new CDs
Choir, Lutosławski Quartet,
with versatile repertoire. A gamut of educational St Peter’s.’
activities is Fondazione
Antony Peattie Teatro La Fenice
Jonathan Sutherland, Programme note translations:
with versatile repertoire. ALutosAir
gamut Quintet, NFM Ensemble, NFM Leopoldinum String
of educational
addressed activities
to all is
Trio, Polish Cello Quartet, and Wrocław Baroque Ensemble. groups. Andrzej Kosendiak, Photographers: now serving Jens Berger, Dennis Collins pp
addressed to all age groups. The Andrzej Kosendiak,
National Forum asof NFM now
Music’sDirector, serving
recording is one of
catalogue the founding fathers of the NFM.
continues pp
Cover4-5 © Silvia
image: MicheleLelli;
Crosera / pp
as NFM Director, is one of tothe founding
grow, and each fathers
year sees of thethe NFM.
release of several new CDs pp 17 & 43
Fondazione © Priska
Teatro Ketterer;
La Fenice
with versatile repertoire. A gamut of educational activities is Photographers:
addressed to all age groups. Andrzej Kosendiak, now serving
p. 30 © Caroline
pp 4-5 © Silvia Lelli;
as NFM Director, is one of the founding fathers of the NFM. pp 17 & 43 © Priska Ketterer; P
P 2018
p. 30 The copyright
© Caroline Doutre in this so
sound recording is owned
P 2018 The copyright in this
by M
Monteverdi Productions
sound recording is owned by Ltd C
C 2018 Monteverdi
Monteverdi Productions Ltd
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105 Soli Deo Gloria

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