Ulisse has not been home for 20 years, since the day he set out for the Trojan wars. For 20 years he has been forced to wander and kept away from home by Nettuno’s power. Now, he is deposited on the shore of his homeland, Ithaca, and his life is in danger. He cannot return to his homeland as the proud hero he is, but must disguise himself as an old man, and seek safety with the shepherds until the moment is right.
Ulisse’s wife, Penelope has waited patiently for her husband. Even with the pressure of everyone telling her that he must be dead, and the suitors lining up at her door, Penelope is still certain that her husband will return, and refuses any of the proposals and gifts.
With the help of the goddess Minerva, Ulisse’s son Telemaco is brought to him. Ulisse reveals his true identity to his son, and they make a plan to return to the palace and remove all the suitors. In his disguise as the old man, Ulisse will challenge the suitors to a contest and their arrogance will be their downfall.
The only thing now standing between Ulisse and his wife, is getting her to believe that this stranger, this old man, is truly her beloved Ulisse. Nothing can convince her, until Ulisse recalls the tender moments of their marriage night, with details no one else can know, and the two of them are finally reunited.
Adapted from Homer’s Odyssey, the story of Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (The return of Ulysses to his fatherland) is a story of a husband and wife’s commitment and devotion to each other, against all odds, and even against the interference from the gods.
Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria guide sections