LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 16.0

Help for CLASSICAL Archives


CLASSICAL Archives

CLASSICAL Archives


CLASSICAL@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

CLASSICAL Home

CLASSICAL Home

CLASSICAL  February 2005

CLASSICAL February 2005

Subject:

A Return to Ulysses

From:

Steve Schwartz <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 31 Jan 2005 09:22:04 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (81 lines)

      Luigi Dallapiccola
            Ulisse

* Claudio Desderi (Ulisse)
* Gwynn Cornell (Circe, Melanto)
* William Workman (Antinoo)
* Denise Boitard (Nausicaa)
* Stan Unruh (Demodoco, Tiresia)
* Schuyler Hamilton (Eumeo)
* Colette Herzog (Calypso, Penelope)
* Jean-Pierre Chevalier (Eurimaco)

Choeur de Radio France, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France/Ernest Bour
Naive V 4960 Total time: 75:26 + 46:52

Summary for the Busy Executive: No tunes.

Dallapiccola finished his opera Ulisse (Ulysses) in 1968.  It had taken
him eight years.  The libretto, by the composer himself, is an amazing
piece of work, incorporating not only Homer, but Machado, Thomas Mann,
Cavafy, Shakespeare, and Dante - all the references I've identified so
far.  Consider what thought it must have taken to reduce all the books
of the Odyssey to two hours, or an evening in the theater, and then to
draw on an amazing reading list besides.  Dallapiccola's solution is
brilliantly poetic.

Among other things, Dallapiccola shows his connection to the Italian
operatic tradition, harkening all the way back to Monteverdi's Il ritorno
d'Ulisse in patria.  But he also represents a break with the Romantic,
bel canto tradition of Italian opera.  The emotions are less fundamental,
less raw, less immediate.  For those who need opera as pretty tunes,
scenery, costumes, and singers who can't act, Ulisse will never become
a favorite.  It's also not particularly theatrical - that is, certain
elements of it pose staging problems (the death of the suitors, as Ulysses
shoots his arrows into them, for example).  Unlike most opera, it doesn't
portray a conflict between characters, but a conflict within a character
- Ulysses himself.  Dallapiccola has created a "drama of the mind," but
drama nevertheless.  Furthermore, it's, in Monteverdi's terms, "drama
per musica." The drama occurs as much in the music as in the stage action,
although the music is not conventionally dramatic - no Verdian shouts,
no Puccini swells.  Most of it is fairly low-key.  Don't bother waiting
for a hummable tune - the sinful sweet of opera.  I love hummable tunes,
but often they obscure the drama, and opera, for me, means primarily
drama.  By this test, Dallapiccola has written a great opera.

Dallapiccola asks at the very beginning the central question, which
quickly turns existential: Why does Ulysses continue to wander?  The
Trojan War and the wrath of Poseidon - Homer's primary motivators of the
action - get short shrift.  Dallapiccola contends that Ulysses' wandering
comes from within.  We see this for almost the entire work not through
Ulysses himself, but through the women he meets and rejects: Calypso,
Nausicaa, Circe, Melantho, and even Penelope.  His restlessness is summed
up in the line "Guardare, meravigliarsi, e tornar a guardare" ("To gaze,
to marvel, and to return to gazing"), repeated throughout the opera.
That is, he cannot rest, but must continually move on to something else.
This, for Ulysses, is wisdom.  The sea he travels on represents both the
world and wisdom.  However, it teaches him at a price.  Calypso at the
very beginning of the opera tells him, "Son, soli un' altra volta, il
tuo core e il mare" ("Alone, once more, are your heart and the sea" - a
line from Machado, incidentally).  Ulysses gains his knowledge at the
cost of cutting himself off from those he loves.  The monsters he meets,
as Circe points out, are those found in his own heart, a notion also
found in Martinu's Ariane.  To know himself, he must travel.

Frankly, Dallapiccola hasn't made things easy either on the performers
or on the listener.  This performance comes from a Radio France concert
of 1975.  Here and there, one encounters some fluffs, but overall Bour
and his players let you in on the greatness of this work.  Bour gets
movement in a score often lacking obvious impulse.  The drama, rarified
as it is, nevertheless comes out due to the efforts of such wonderful
singers as Colette Herzog playing both Calypso and Penelope, Gwynn Cornell
as both Circe and Melantho, and Jean-Pierre Chevalier as Eurymachus.
Claudio Desderi comes over as a crude, stentorian Ulysses, but the
character throughout most of the opera does very little.  As I've pointed
out, we see Ulysses by the reactions of others, rather than by his own
words and deeds.  The exception to this comes at the end - the hero's
final (and only) aria.  Desderi does well enough, without actually
breaking through to the revelatory.  This is probably the only recording
of Ulisse for quite a while, and it will serve.

Steve Schwartz

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

Advanced Options


Options

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password


Search Archives

Search Archives


Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe


Archives

May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
January 2001
December 2000
November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
June 2000
May 2000
April 2000
March 2000
February 2000
January 2000
December 1999
November 1999
October 1999
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999
June 1999
May 1999
April 1999
March 1999
February 1999
January 1999
July 1997

ATOM RSS1 RSS2



COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager