Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (Bucharest, 18 September 2015)

This excellent livestreamed performance from the George Enescu Festival comes as a bonus for us looking to hear this very same cast at the Barbican in a couple of weeks.

The George Enescu Festival first got my attention via its top quality Baroque (and beyond) bookings, when the concert performance of Ariodante spawned my favourite rendition of Dopo notte:

How sweet is that starting dopo? whew. I’ve heard a good slew of excellent Dopo nottes but this one still has a certain edge. And not bad tempo at all from Curtis, who gave us that sluggish DVD of Ariodante. I envy those in attendence!

Ever since then I’ve checked the Festival for anything (Baroque) interesting. I was quite tempted to attend this year, given their inclusion of Monteverdi, but the September slot is a bit weird for me. Considering the continuous high level of performances, I shall make time one year, though I heard not all the venues used have top notch acoustics (but then neither does the Barbican or the Royal Albert Hall). I understand the Ateneu is a good venue. Annie, maybe you can give a brief account, seeing as how you’ve actually attended this performance 🙂

ulissemugsUlisse: Ian Bostridge
Penelope: Barbara Kozelj
Minerva/Amore: Elizabeth Watts
Telemaco: Andrew Tortise
Tempo/Nettuno/Antinoo: Lukas Jakobski
Melanto/Fortuna: Sophie Junker
L’umana fragilita: Daniela Lehner
Eumete: Christopher Gillett
Iro: Alexander Oliver
Conductor: Richard Egarr | Academy of Ancient Music
George Enescu Festival, Ateneul Român (livestreaming)

Lucky for us all, the Festival livestreams a lot of their performances. Aside from some lazy video mixing before and after the performance and a tendency for super saturated sound (which afflicted Watts worse than anyone else), the streaming was very reliable; some interesting angles from behind the singers. Good emphasis was put on the involved acting from all and sundry.

Egarr’s tempo was quite slow, at least compared to Christie’s in my favourite version (see Missing in action…). That came as a bit of a surprise, as I remember him storming through L’Orfeo two years ago at the Barbican.


reunited at last (click for accompanying music!)

This Ulisse and his Penelope have been through so much they can’t quite let themselves go. They are very gentle and mature even when everything ends well.

Penelope’s lament: very well sung and dignified but you’d think she’d be more gutted/fed up; gentle voice but perhaps forgettable. The final duet was lovely in its very subdued way.

Ulisse: I’ve only heard Bostridge in lieder so far but very nice tone and phrasing and all in all a riveting performance as the moodiest Ulisse out there. I officially have no more reason to ignore his Wigmore Hall outings 😉


Anfinomo, Pisandro and Antinoo wooing Penelope

The picture does not lie: apparently, singers in possession of good coloratura skills can be spotted by their long necks. Countertenors and mezzos look more or less the same. Basses are supposedly tall. These three “suitors” blended very well.


Watts: proper Cassandra 😀 not the Monteverdiest stylings but an energetic portrayal and her comic skills are up my alley.


Iro laments his fate

Though I don’t like children in opera I do enjoy old geezers swing some trills’n’silly jokes. Alexander Oliver got some of the warmest applause for his scheming Iro.

The others were good too, especially Junker’s Melanto, but more about them in a couple of weeks, in the Barbican semi-staged version!

About dehggial

Mozart/Baroque loving red dragon

Posted on September 20, 2015, in baroque and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 87 Comments.

  1. that photo after finale duet is really sweet!

  2. It was an evening of glorious music and wonderful singing and I absolutely loved every second. As you say, the opera was staged in the Romanian Athenaeum which is unbelievably beautiful. It only seats 800 and the acoustics are superb and if anyone is in Bucharest, I would recommend going.
    The George Enescu Festival now attracts the best conductors, the best orchestras and some of the best singers in the world as was demonstrated by the line up for Ulisse.

    PS Love the cartoons. Alexander Oliver, Ian Bostridge and Lukas Jakobski?

    • Cheers for the cartoon appreciation! I was inspired to draw them whilst watching 😀

      and thank you very much for the info! 800 is a great capacity for this kind of thing.

      How did you like Poppea? I saw some of it last night and it also looked very good.

  3. I don’t know Poppea as well as I know Ulisse but I enjoyed it and judging by the audience reaction at the end (they went crazy!), it was extremely good.

  4. Ooh! Thank you thadieu. How lovely to able to watch that clip.

    • migrating my reply here to Annie from my site 🙂
      striped shirt? i can look for you ;-). i have the entire Ulisse and can also share if you’d like to re-listen (the Poppea one is already shared with Dehgi in the very long comment section of my latest post, if you can’t locate i can also repost link)

  5. Thank you so much. I am downloading Poppea now. Just wish my PC was a bit quicker!!

  6. Thank you so much for the videos. I read your conversation with thả diều on his blog page and you guys must have had great fun chatting while you watched the stream!

    • yes, it’s very entertaining watching things “together” 😀 Please join in if you’d like when these things happen, I venture to say thadieu wouldn’t mind, as she’s very sociable.

      • Here comes Ulisse (and you’re right D, Watts was in pink to start! 😀 )
        Part1 Part2
        (ps- if Poppea sound + video not synching, let me know — esp. tell me which is lagging which and i can fix if it bothers you.. it’s a trial and error process but i’ve now gotten it down to 0.01s with Ulisse!)

  7. ps- unrelated.. but since you’re alcina fan, head over to Anik’s site for rare version link (or may be you know about it already?). While there, do take a bit of time to enjoy “vorrei baciarti” 🙂 (for context it sits in 4th spot right after “deh memoria, e che piu chiedi” in that lovely cd i napped through while you practicing your german-listening-skill with the people on bus zürich-munich)

  8. ps- an even more (or less?) unrelated.. i think she said her favorite composer is Monteverdi! (assuming my german-hearing-and-free-interpretation is mildly correct 😀 )

    • we need to do a kickstarter thing and get funds for her to do the full Monty! hehe.

      • actually i’m really hopeful now.. Penelope would sit very nicely with her.. and Poppea, why not! will she take on Orfeo too? you know what would be ideal (for me 😉 )? an alternate cast for monty triology , aca + vk . i’d say screw proposals and just camp in that city for the whole run 😀

      • make sure you make it back by saturday, VK sings Monteverdi on radio!! (not live, but i don’t care! it was from a program last month..)

        • Saturday! I’m going on a work trip… but with luck we will be back on time. It’s also annoying as she was in Basel today but there was no decent way to combine this with that or with the Munich show on Tue. Though can’t complain too much this year 😉 btw you would’ve loved this show today, I sat right behind the orchestra.

          • oh? which show? i should see your site, after my attempt soccer match.. she was singing today in Munich, lots and lots of rave from Cat & others.. and she was in tears.. probably missing the dear audience in the city she loved 🙂

            • Xerse by Cavalli, same story as the Handel one. I figured if I’m here I might as well see two shows.

              If she misses the audience she should come back to sing more good stuff 😉 everybody wins!

              • oh, u’re still cooking the post, i’ll wait and read.. (hands frozen now, it’s 4degC, epic out of shape..) will also wait to read b4 i ask your impression on that nice theater 🙂
                (ps- she was sing handel, mozart, bulgarian folk songs today)

        • so, how do you like it? I thought she rocked the Haydn but the Monteverdi didn’t work with the piano.

          • i like the Haydn, am digesting the French portion now… and since i capture, right after this i’ll hurry back to Monteverdi… i thought: it was very interesting, extrememly different than the version i’ve been hearing this past 2 weeks from ACA 🙂 . Piano was quite different indeed, but i didn’t think it was intrusive.. she has all the room to express in that aria (it really helps to have listened to it like 100x as i just did on ACA binge..)

            • not saying it was intrusive, the piano has been very supportive, just kind of not suitable for the music. I’m no fan of Massenet but at least it’s suited by the piano.

              • i kept checking the agenda to see if she’ll also sing the primadonna and quite this Teseo already for the Komponist…

                • the primadonna in Strauss’ Ariadne? lolz, she can’t! Dramatic soprano needed.

                  • i know, disappointedly 😉

                    • I don’t know why she never sung the Komponist, though. I remember she said somewhere she was asked to and was scared to. Well, her voice was high enough at the beginning of her career…

                    • Do you know which composer’s music she’s singing? still Massenet? I think her voice fits very nice with the melody + swing, really lovely. She did say in that video a while ago she likes Monteverdi and Massenet..

                    • No I think the presenter said something else. This is very pretty indeed. That’s good she likes Monteverdi, she should sing more then 😉 and if she sang Charlotte near enough I would go see her just because it’s her and not because I care about that damn opera 😀

                    • can you imagine that was my first experience w/ VK live? but the 4th act she pretty much hogged the scene, so you can consider skipping all until then 😉

                    • oh, poor you! sit through that tenor whinging 😀 I saw that 2014 (?) production some Alagna fan posted on yt, she was good, he was too actually (still can’t remember the music!). I naturally kept skipping until she was on.

                    • it was the exact staging i saw her in, at the vienna main haus. i brought a friend along and we were like: ok, when is she gonna sing??? 😀

                    • haha, I wish it was more about Charlotte than about Werther. It would’ve been an interesting setting, because she clearly wants him and it’s actually harder for her.

                    • ps- i put up VK’s on my radio alert post, and conveniently “drop” ACA’s version there as well 😉

  9. wow, that dopo notte is great, can you imagine being in the hall and hearing this live? think i go hunt the whole show down on tube now..

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