There is no secular story nearly so important to the Western tradition as the Odyssey, a timeless tale of heroism, achievement, and loss. The subject matter of this epic poem has found its way into many works of art, and likely the earliest opera adaptation was Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria, first performed in 1639 in the city of Venice. Monteverdi’s opera tells one of the oldest remembered human stories through the new form of art of which he was one of the pioneers, the opera. His reimaginings of Greek myth often fused Christian and pagan elements into a beautiful and complex melange, and this is no exception. At once philosophical and lyrical, Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria comes to us from a very different time from our own, but continues to thrill through its inventiveness and beauty.
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