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Most recent performance

There are currently no scheduled performances of The Return of Ulysses. It was last on stage 10–21 January 2018 as part of the Winter 2017/18 season.

The Story

Ulysses has finally made his way back to Ithaca after the Trojan War. He returns to his palace disguised as a beggar, and sees the many suitors who have been competing for his faithful wife Penelope’s hand. Under Minerva’s influence, Penelope promises to accept the suitor who can string Ulysses’ bow.

The suitors all fail. The disguised Ulysses humbly asks to try his turn. He is victorious and in a fury slays the suitors. Penelope initially refuses to accept him as the real Ulysses, but finally he convinces her of his identity and his love.


The Return of Ulysses (Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria) is one of only three surviving operas by the Renaissance composer Claudio Monteverdi. As with The Coronation of Poppea (L’incoronazione di Poppea) it dates from the later period of Monteverdi’s career, and was first performed in Venice in 1640. The opera is a masterpiece: Monteverdi invests majestic music with great pathos and dramatic truth, driving with astonishing directness to the heart of each of his complex characters.

John Fulljames, The Royal Opera's former Associate Director of Opera, directs a new production of The Return of Ulysses in English for The Royal Opera at the Roundhouse. The production follows on from the tremendous success in 2015 of Monteverdi’s Orfeo – The Royal Opera’s first production of a Monteverdi opera – which was widely acclaimed for its musical excellence and innovative use of the distinctive, immersive space of the Roundhouse.

The chorus for The Return of Ulysses is made up of 40 singers from the Roundhouse community choir and the Royal Opera House Thurrock Community Chorus. These singers perform alongside students of the Vocal Studies programme at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.

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