Just a few simple pieces of fabric enough backdrop for excellent Return of Ulysses opera from Paris
An all-Italian cast and orchestra (period-performace La Venexiana, which started out as a madrigal group) led by Claudio Cavina, presented a fantastic interpretation of Claudio Monteverdi's 1640 "musical drama" Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria (Ulysses is Back and There's Going to Be Laundry) at the Cité de la musique in Paris last Wednesday, closing the centre's 5th Biennale of Vocal Arts. It is streaming on the web for free at medici.tv, and is well worth a peek and listen.
(La Venexiana presents this touring show again at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam on Sunday, and at the Stuttgart Baroque Festival on Sept. 14.)
It's a semi-staged effort, with a split orchestra sharing the stage with the singers as a few sheets of fabric. Yet it has all the emotional and musical power of a fully staged performance.
Here is a strangely compelling blend of old and new by La Venexiana, recorded in 2009: Monteverdi's "Il lamento della ninfa:"