The Return of Ulysses (Pinchgut Opera)

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Michael Halliwell Friday, 14 June 2019
Published in ABR Arts

Some of the fascinating, indeed, frustrating aspects of the operas of Claudio Monteverdi include the lack of certainty in regard to both the authenticity of the various musical sources that have survived, and to exactly how these operas were performed, factors that influence performance choices made today. Orfeo, the earliest of his operas, and which has a secure place in the opera repertoire, is perhaps the best documented, but the two later Venetian operas, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria and L’incoronazione di Poppea, are fragmentary at best.

In fact, the authorship of Ulisse has often been disputed, and the score exists in manuscript only as a three-act version in a library in Vienna, although there are several versions of the libretto extant. Ulisse had its first performance in Venice in 1640, followed immediately by a production in Bologna the same year, and then a revival in Venice the following year, an almost unprecedented operatic success for the time.


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Published in ABR Arts
Michael Halliwell

Michael Halliwell

Michael Halliwell studied literature and music at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, at the London Opera Centre, and with Tito Gobbi in Florence. He has sung in Europe, North America, South Africa and Australia and was principal baritone for many years with the Netherlands Opera, the Nürnberg Municipal Opera, and the Hamburg State Opera singing over fifty major operatic roles, including several world premiere productions. He has served as Chair of Vocal Studies and Opera, Pro-Dean and Head of School, and Associate Dean (Research) at the Sydney Conservatorium. He is Vice President of the International Association for Word and Music Studies. His publications include the monographs, Opera and the Novel (Rodopi: 2005); and National Identity on Contemporary Australian Opera: myths reconsidered (Routledge, 2018), as well as many chapters and articles. He still performs regularly and recent CDs include When the Empire Calls (ABC Classics, 2005); O for a Muse of Fire: Australian Shakespeare Settings (Vox Australis, 2013); Amy Woodforde-Finden: The Oriental Song-Cycles (Toccata Classics, 2014); That Bloody Game; Australian WWI Songs (Wirripang, 2015).

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