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Ulisse

Luigi Dallapiccola 1904–1975

Opera in 2 acts, with a prologue
Libretto by the composer
First performed September 29 1968, Deutsche Oper, Berlin
Never performed in Frankfurt before

Sung in German with German & English surtitles

Introduction (on video, in German) will appear here and on YouTube not long before the production opens

Odysseus fascinated Luigi Dallapiccola all his life. The Italian composer developed his own version of the myth for his last opera Ulisse, based on countless other renditions, but mostly inspired by Dante, in which Odysseus is a torn individual restlessly searching for (self-)discovery.

Stranded in the land of the Phaeacians, he looks back on stages of his Odyssey: the seductive, self-forgetful world of the Lotophagi, his intellectually stimulating liaison with the sorceress Circe and journey to Hades, where he encountered his dead mother. Odysseus is initially unrecognised and ridiculed as a "nobody" when he finally gets home to Ithaca. The pain of losing his identity drives him to revenge: killing the suitors courting his wife Penelope before setting off on his last expedition. Alone, out at sea, he at last thinks he recognises the existence of a higher plane in which his inner ambivalences are irrevelant.

A network of twelve-tone series runs through Dallapiccola's score, which all stem from an original series, which the composer called »Mare I«, making the sea the musical protagonist in the opera. All 13 episodes in the story are characterised by their own sound: central to the symmetrically arranged sequence of images is the darkly orchestrated Hades scene, which Dallapiccola conceived as a kind of Bach mirror canon.

Director Tatjana Gürbaca, making her debut at Oper Frankfurt with this new production of Ulisse, enjoyed great success with Dallapiccola's Il prigioniero at the Volksoper in Vienna not long ago.