Monteverdi 's first opera written for Venice in 1640, Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria is a dramma per musica composed of a prologue and three acts, with a libretto written by Giacomo Badoaro inspired from Homer.
After a metaphorical prologue which represents human weaknesses for good fortunes and love, the first act shows Penelope weeping for Ulysses' long absence. The courtiers soon reveal their goal to marry the solitary queen, while Ulysses is landing in Ithaca asleep and before disguising himself as a beggar to foil the courtiers' conspiracy.
The second and third acts recount, with a remarkable liberty in melody and rhythm, the events of the curiously postponed return of Ulysses. This opera has fascinated numbers of composers, such as Dallapiccola or Henze, who both created some versions inspired from this work.
© Photo: Paola Reggiani