Ulisse ‘at the Frankfurt Opera: a man searches to his death – Culture

“I wanted to explore the good and the bad in life”: this is how the title hero in Luigi Dallapicola’s “Ulisse” introduces himself on the stage of the Frankfurt Opera, after escaping the raging sea half-naked. As in Homer’s epic, Odysseus arrives on the island of the Fascists by swimming, where he tells us about his past: about Calypso and Circe’s search for love, and about the Lotophags, who gladly teach people to forget about the past and the future. But Ulisse, as he is called in the Italian world, does not want to be forgotten, but, as the second act of the opera tells us, finds his way to Ithaca, to his wife Penelope, even if he has to kill countless children. suitors there.

Luigi Dallapicola (1904 – 1975) is best known in Germany for his opera “Il Prigioniero”, with which he became the principal composer of a politically engaged musical theater in the post-war period. The fact that the Italian twenty years later took a completely different path – more mythical, more philosophical – in his last opera was disturbing not only at the premiere at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in the highly political year of 1968. Until now, rarely appearing on the stage, the Frankfurt Opera now poses to discuss again in a German translation, as it did in Berlin.

Director Tatiana Gorbaka allows playing in an intermediate world: a kind of bleak parking lot (stage: Klaus Grunberg) appears as a symbol of the dead world of Hades, in which Jules descends in the middle of the middle scene, but also as an image of the sea, whose black waves roll to the stage workers for open transitions . Silke Willrett costumes show people of immortal existence, and vintage traits like mortal squirrels in orgies at Penelope court only occasionally. The choir of the Frankfurt Opera, very enthusiastic about the performance and at the same time wonderfully harmonious, throws itself at it with relish. At first, Gürbaca Ulisse was chosen from among his rank, which is simply anyone – or “nobody”, as he is repeatedly called in operas.

Ulisse will not be happy, he will die and go out to sea

This is much more than just a reference to Homer’s scene about the giant Polyphemus. In the script written by himself, Dallapicula is interested in the modern man who explores everything, but becomes distant from himself in the process, who is not aware of any limits and thus pushes himself beyond recognition, to open questions. Contrary to the epic, Penelope recognizes her as “Nobody” at the end without any problems, but Julis isn’t happy with it either. He pushes him out to sea again, where at least he has a gift from God when he dies. Musically, Dallapiccola has developed his very own form of twelve-tone music, which in terms of sound itself has something exploratory and rooted about it. Conductor Francesco Lanzlotta directs the detailed playing of the Frankfurt Opera and the Museum Orchestra with great care, not shy about volumetric blocks, but above all emphasizing the flowing quest.

Orgy In Penelope Court

(Photo: Barbara Umüller)

The show probably has to be more mysterious than what Tatiana Gorbaka does in her story Sovereign, but it’s pretty powerful. “Ulisse” is not a theatrical work in the truest sense of the word, there is a lack of dramatic participation and the characters reflect too much on themselves. With an unmistakable Italian feel to cantabile, Dallapiccola explores the possibilities of all vocal themes. There are, for example, Catarina Magira, who descends into the depths of Circe and Melantho with a velvet alto, the hugely influential Claudia Manke, who encounters Ulysses as his deceased mother in Hades, and the palatable substance of Brian Michael Moore as Iumaus or the strikingly masculine man Danilo Matvienko as Antinos. free. In the end, however, all loops remain loops, while Iain MacNeil as Ulisse combines it all with a gorgeous bronze-infused baritone that almost exudes warmth in the high notes. The still rather young singer not only conveys the self-explanation of his character with amazing clarity of the text, but also loudly connects it with impeccable inherited utterances.

Part of the program’s policy of Frankfurt Artistic Director Bernd Lube is to frequently present lesser known musical theater works. Dallabicula’s Ulisse proves that he’s probably better off in the concert hall than on stage, but it’s definitely worth discussing. Because Ulysses, this selfless person, is still our contemporary.

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