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Författare: J. Lynn.

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Iscrizione al registro delle imprese: n. Stone image of the head of a man, showing signs of erosion due to age. The most striking feature is the heavily coiled beard and hair. Il ritorno is the first of three full-length works which Monteverdi wrote for the burgeoning Venetian opera industry during the last five years of his life. Together with Monteverdi’s other Venetian stage works, Il ritorno is classified as one of the first modern operas. In 1637 fully-fledged opera came to Venice with the opening of the Teatro San Cassiano.

Sponsored by the wealthy Tron family, this theatre was the first in the world specifically devoted to opera. L’Arianna was followed in rapid succession by three brand new Monteverdi operas, of which Il ritorno was the first. Open ancient book, showing on the left page a bust of a bearded man, on the right the title page giving the following information: “The Odyssey of Homer, transalted from the Greek. Venetian dialect who was a member of the Accademia degli Incogniti, a group of free-thinking intellectuals interested in promoting musical theatre in Venice—Badoaro himself held a financial interest in the Teatro Novissimo.

The Monteverdi scholar Ellen Rosand has identified 12 versions of the published libretto that have been discovered in the years since the first performance. In keeping with the general character of Venetian opera, the work was written for a small band—around five string players and various continuo instruments. A study of the score reveals many characteristic Monteverdi features, derived from his long experience as a composer for the stage and of other works for the human voice. Rosand believes that rather than casting doubts on Monteverdi’s authorship, the significant differences between the score and the libretto might lend support to it, since Monteverdi was well known for his adaptations of the texts presented to him. Before and after the publication of the score in 1922, scholars questioned the work’s authenticity, and its attribution to Monteverdi continued to be in some doubt until the 1950s.

The Italian musicologist Giacomo Benvenuti maintained, on the basis of a 1942 performance in Milan, that the work was simply not good enough to be by Monteverdi. A renowned Venetian tenor, Giovan Battista Marinoni, may have appeared in the initial Venice run as Giove. The role was initially sung, in Venice and Bologna, by Maddalena Manelli, wife of Francesco. The action takes place on and around the island of Ithaca, ten years after the Trojan Wars.

English translations used in the synopsis are from Geoffrey Dunn’s version, based on Raymond Leppard’s 1971 edition, and from Hugh Ward-Perkins’s interpretation issued with Sergio Vartolo’s 2006 recording for Brilliant Classics. They will render man “weak, wretched, and bewildered. In the rear centre of the picture, against the background of a stormy sky, is a series of rocks forming the shape of a sailing ship. Left foreground, a sleeping figure is visible on the ground. In the palace at Ithaca, Penelope mourns the long absence of Ulysses: “The awaited one does not return, and the years pass by. Her grief is echoed by her nurse, Ericlea. As Penelope leaves, her attendant Melanto enters with Eurimaco, a servant to Penelope’s importunate suitors.

Stylised drawing taken from a Greek vase, of numerous naked or near-naked figures, some bearing weapons, some being attacked. Minerva and Telemaco return to Ithaca in a chariot. Telemaco is greeted joyfully by Eumete and the disguised Ulisse in the woodland grove: “O great son of Ulysses, you have indeed returned! After Eumete goes to inform Penelope of Telemaco’s arrival a bolt of fire descends on Ulisse, removing his disguise and revealing his true identity to his son.

O grief, O torment that saddens the soul! Melanto, whose lover Eurimaco was killed with the suitors, tries to warn Penelope of the new danger represented by the unidentified slayer, but Penelope is unmoved and continues to mourn for Ulisse. Outline of a theatre auditorium, with a horseshoe-shaped arrangement of boxes and a set of tiers surmounting a central stage area. 40 Venice carnival by the theatrical company of Manelli and Ferrari, who had first brought opera to Venice.