il ritorno d’Ulisse in Hamburg

©Monika Rittershaus

warming greetings from Hamburg! The WS vehicle, which Purity envisioned 8 years ago to follow mezzos (and contraltos) around Europe finally materialized as Agathe, thadieu, and Dehggi all piled into to a small 4-wheel device heading for Sara Mingardo.

the Mingardo soundtrack for the WS road

The anticipation was very high, given that the Hamburger Staatsoper withheld any rehearsal photos the entire week prior and we all arrived with heart-thumping worries of an announcement of a replacement. Even the conductor walking out was giving Agathe a heart-dropping moment, same worrying about more last minute announcement :-). But all was well, Sara Mingardo was listed, onstage right from the first scene. Not sure if Agathe recognized her in the ensemble, but of course I did, and so should Dehggi one floor higher up on our opposite side.

Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria

Hamburg 29/Oct/2017
Sara Mingardo: Penelope

Kurt Streit: Ulisse
Katja Pieweck: Ericlea
Dorottya Láng: Minerva
Dovlet Nurgeldiyev: Telemaco
Christophe Dumaux: L’umana fragilità / Anfinomo
Denis Velev: Tempo / Antinoo
Luigi De Donato: Nettuno
Rainer Trost: Eumete
Marion Tassou: Melanto
Oleksiy Palchykov: Eurimaco
Alexander Kravets: Giove
Gabriele Rossmanith: Fortuna/Giunone
Peter Galliard: Iro
Viktor Rud: Pisandro

Vaclav Luks: musical director
Orchestra: Collegium 1704

I like this staging a lot! and have already seen it back in May/2015 when she had her month-long Zürich’s debut, though it’s true back then i had *no* clue about the composer/music/Penelope. Essentially the stage is a simple very large white sloping dish, on which Penelope was either being centered and isolated through her sorrow, or twirled around/cornered by the suiters / party-ers. The fragile human (Christophe Dumaux) was stripped to his boxer and tortured, with strings pulled in every which way by the gods and goddesses. Female characters were in generic dresses with heels** while male characters in suit and ties. The exceptions being Ulisse often being shirtless and the suiters with the “<3 Penelope” T-Shirts that ALL OF US (Dehggi, thadieu, Agathe) ALL WANT WANT WANT ❤ . We’ve discussed going to the Hamburg Opera’s shop to order/request.

© Monika Rittershaus

So, the verdict, actually, i’ll let Agathe say something about her impression in the comment section. As for self, ❤ <3. We sat on the right (in all senses) side with Sara Mingardo often ended up in our corner with Ericlea by her side while being chased. Postures! did I mention Mingardo’s postures before? in holding the bow, throwing the dresses.. jumping(!!) on and off tables (i can’t believe she’s doing all these, with helps of course, but on those heels!) . and vocally: ❤ . Actually Penelope has so much sad music to sing through, it was quite enjoyable the rare moments she has defiant music to push back (posture). Strangely enough, through her lamentation and almost the entire evening, the harpsichord (to the left of the conductor) was TOOO LOUD! we wondered if it was our seatings, but Dehggi reported the same thing from quite a different location in the haus. To our astonishment, the harpsichord went kaput in the final scene. And ALLLL ears were perked up to hear SMingardo’s phrasings during the final bit, starting with such a heart-felt collapse (snif). I’m quite prone to heartfelt/devastated collapses for some reasons, when they’re done just at the right moment and you feel the whole weight on Penelope (or Donna Anna in Paris) , snif..

We debated why we heard ALL of her range of emotion & tones & voice & expression so well in the finale, and wondered outloud if we had gotten used finally to the sound in the haus.. but NO, the harpsichord STOPPED! that was it. PLease, for the rest of the run, please turn down the harpsichord when she sings! She doesn’t need it at all, not at that volume that just trampled over her at times.

Ok, am finishing this off now to go hang out some more, so, mainly just starting this as a space for us to return later to discuss, about how much we enjoyed Minerva, both in blazer and in dress, and that we’d like to hear from more her (mezzo Dorottya Láng) . Above is the trailer, and below is the curtain call. It was quite nice seeing the warm reception the cast and orchestra received on the opening night. And oh yes, I’ll try to form some lines of thoughts about the orchestra. I quite like it! but somehow kept thinking how different they are in their phrasings (mainly Vaclav Luks’s way of phrasing) than Alessandrini and Anrea Marcon. Altogether, we’re still talking about it here through our various hopping between cities.. but will return soon to fill the space (i hope) with discussion, as well as enjoying Dehggi’s take whenever it comes.

signing off until the next excursion. please excuse the grammar/spelling errors.. i’m proceeding now to my fresh breakfast bread!

About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

34 Responses to il ritorno d’Ulisse in Hamburg

  1. Anik LaChev says:


    I can barely speak due to monstrous green-ugliness, but thank you so much for this – for sharing, and for doing it so quickly!

    • thả diều says:

      🙂 not yet a lot of content, but i was so happy to see her again in the same staging as now so many more things made sense and i could focus on Penelope :-). at times i did wonder what it would have been like hearing Harnoncourt live conducting this 🙂

      ps- Ohhh Stray, may i bribe you for the radio broadcast? :-). i think i saw in the trailer (that trailer was captured on the premiere night) that they might have been wearing mic for the broadcast? am quite lookig forward to hear how different it will be to our live experience

  2. Thank you for your report! I listened on the radio and I LOVED it. Mingardo sounded fabulous, and, on the radio, the harpsichord did not sound overwhelming.
    I will be there this Saturday! Can’t wait!

  3. dehggial says:

    Don’t forget to add what was the soundtrack in the contralto mobile 😉 also that Hamburg Opera works well with early music. Aside from the harpsichord issues, the sound came through very well and the singers had good diction all around.

    The opera house needs a bigger lobby, though.

  4. thả diều says:

    ps- SM was absolutely breathtaking tonite in the entrance, wow, i was shaken.

  5. Agathe says:

    ….Ohh, this is such fun to read! I don’t need to add anything on Mingardo, as you said, it was all there, so moving to hear her live the first time! And yes, the jumping, the posture, I hope I will still be able to generate more tunnel vision next time and don’t get distracted by the rude partying. Still grinning about the T-Shirts!
    Very curious now on what you report from tonight!

    • thả diều says:

      ps- i have been walking around grinning ear to ear at the image of us three stripping our blazers to reveal these shirts underneath the next time we see her backstage 😉

  6. Agathe says:

    …and yes, that last duet particularly <3, sniff. And her happy smiles in the curtain calls, so charming!

  7. Pingback: Il ritorno di Willy Decker to Hamburg (Hamburg Opera, 29 October 2017) | opera, innit?

  8. dehggial says:

    btw, is there a way to make your blog’s archives more user friendly? 😉

    • thả diều says:

      oh? how? i attempted to make a list of “performance review” though lagging in adding the latest.

      • dehggial says:

        have you tried adding widgets? One of them is the archive.

        • thả diều says:

          oh, haha. no, i can try! i guess i don’t travel enough so i tend to zoom in directly on the dates of the performance (year/mo/da) and arrive at the performance.. but that’s me searching my own blog haha. let me see what i can do here…

          • dehggial says:

            remember how you were asking if I’d ever read your first post? How do I get there quickly (without needless scrolling) without the archives?

          • thả diều says:

            hihi, because i knew i started my blog back in 2009 🙂 . but an archive has just been added. how would one use it?

          • dehggial says:

            aha, thank you! The way I use mine is I pick a moth, click on it and all the posts for that month are shown (also the number of posts for that month) – that way I don’t necessary need to remember when I posted a certain post. I also like to sometimes use it as a journal (what was I listening/seeing on that date?). It is useful if you want to know when the blog started (I like to see there is a lot to read! less like it when I see the blog has been abandoned early on).

          • thả diều says:

            oh. let me go to yours and see what it looks like. normally i go directly to the link for that: say i want the month 11 of year 2011 i’d go to dehggial .. / 2011 / 11 and it lists all the months. but of course you’d need to know this trick, whereas archive lists it for you visibly perhaps.

          • dehggial says:

            yes, you need to know what you’re looking for! I was thinking about that trick but then I thought “which year, which month?”

          • thả diều says:

            ps- your 2017/04 stash is very fine. i’m craving for gelato now..

          • dehggial says:

            haha, I was just looking at your pics of the same time! Very good stuff!

          • thả diều says:

            hmm, i just got to my site now, and that archive thingy is as long as a mile.. while yours is a little nice box.. i’ll have to figure out later this week how you got yours so tidy and mine is like spelling out the whole content on the sideline

          • dehggial says:

            with my theme there is an option you can check “display as dropdown” and another one “show postcount”.

          • thả diều says:

            “display as dropdown” does the trick 🙂

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