Monteverdi: Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria / Gardiner, English Baroque Soloists
Monteverdi’s great opera is a celebration of unwavering devotion, conveyed in some of the composer’s most poignant, heart-breaking music. After two brutal decades of war, the weary Ulysses is washed up on the rocky shore of his home island of Ithaca. There, he discovers the hordes of depraved admirers who have beseiged his faithful wife Penelope in his 20-year absence – and launches into battle to win back her love. Monteverdi’s opera is a celebration of unwavering devotion, conveyed in some of the composer’s most poignant, heartbreaking music. John Eliot Gardiner leads an exemplary cast of world-class singers alongside the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists in this live recording from The National Forum of Music in Wroclaw, Poland – part of their critically acclaimed Monteverdi 450 tour in 2017.
Faced with lots of recitative and practically no arias, singers and players abandon themselves to intense arioso, jazzy cross-rhythms between poetry and continuo, and take-no-prisoners dissonances. Furio Zanasi, Lucile Richardot, and Hana Blažiková bring a depth of acting almost without rival.
– BBC Music Magazine
Recitatives flicker and spark with detail. Instrumental textures are spare and speeds swift, and there’s a welcome sense of narrative drive. Text is king, but it’s the rhetoric of the English Baroque Soloists that really counts. Zanasi is a smooth, patrician Uliss. There are more classically beautiful accounts of Il ritorno d’Ulisse available, but perhaps none with quite so much life.
Catalog Number: SDG730
Composer: Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor: John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble: English Baroque Soloists
Performer: Anna Dennis, Carlo Vistoli, Francesca Boncompagni, Francisco Fernandez Rueda, Furio Zanasi, Gianluca Buratto, Hana Blazikova, Krystian Adam, Lucile Richardot, Robert Burt, Silvia Frigato, Zachary Wilder