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Monteverdi’s Ulysses comes home to the Roundhouse in a new ROH production

04 January, 2018 — By Matthew Horne

A new production of The Return of Ulysses by Monteverdi (inset) opens at the Roundhouse on January 10

The Royal Opera returns to the Roundhouse this month to stage a new production of Claudio Monteverdi’s Renaissance masterpiece The Return of Ulysses, one of only three surviving operas by the Italian composer.

The opera is performed in English in a translation by Christopher Cowell.

The Greek legend tells the story of Ulysses, King of Ithaca, who on returning from fighting in the Trojan War finds the island is not as he left it, and the place he once called home has been changed by the impact of migration and its ensuing tensions. Director John Fulljames’ production explores the reality of homecoming and gives the epic tale a contemporary resonance.

The cast of singers assembled by The Royal Opera is led by English baritone Roderick Williams as Ulysses and English mezzo-soprano Christine Rice as his wife Penelope.

Taking full advantage of the Roundhouse’s 360 degree space, the action is staged “in-the-round”, with performers facing the audience in all directions. At the centre will be conductor and early music specialist Christian Curnyn, who directs musicians from the Early Opera Company.

The production also features 40 singers from the Royal Opera House Thurrock Community Chorus and Roundhouse community, giving them the opportunity to perform on the Roundhouse stage alongside professional musicians.

The new production of The Return of Ulysses follows the previous collaboration between The Royal Opera and the Roundhouse in 2015, when Monteverdi’s Orfeo was staged at the Camden venue.

The Return of Ulysses opens at the Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, NW1, on January 10, with further performances on January 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19 and 21. Tickets are available from the Royal Opera House and the Roundhouse:
• Royal Opera House, 020 7304 4000, www.roh.org.uk/productions/the-return-of-ulysses-by-john-fulljames
• Roundhouse, 0300 6789 222, www.roundhouse.org.uk/whats-on/list

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