After ten years of adventuring and wandering from East to West, the hero Ulisse finally returns home to Ithaca. His journey has both marked and matured him. Now he finds his faithful wife Penelope beset by insistent suitors out for money, power and sex.
But she stubbornly resists their advances. She also distrusts Ulisse, who appears in disguise. He must convince her of his true identity, of his undiminished love and put his house in order once more.
For his first Venetian opera, Monteverdi chose an excerpt from Homer’s Odyssey. This ancient story inspired him to create a story about coming home, fidelity, seduction, doubt and catharsis – all familiar themes for the existential modern man. Monteverdi creates the characters we are so familiar with in a musically inventive way. He masterfully combines recitatives with arias and allows instrumental numbers to influence the dramatic sung parts. This was a revolutionary procedure at the time and it made Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria an opera in which errant man with his eternal doubts appears in the foreground and the gods play a minor role.