1st Edition

Performing Homer: The Voyage of Ulysses from Epic to Opera

Edited By Wendy Heller, Eleonora Stoppino Copyright 2019
    222 Pages
    by Routledge

    222 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey, attributed to Homer, are among the oldest surviving works of literature derived from oral performance. Deeply embedded in these works is the notion that they were intended to be heard: there is something musical about Homer's use of language and a vivid quality to his images that transcends the written page to create a theatrical experience for the listener. Indeed, it is precisely the theatrical quality of the poems that would inspire later interpreters to cast the Odyssey and the Iliad in a host of other media-novels, plays, poems, paintings, and even that most elaborate of all art forms, opera, exemplified by no less a work than Monteverdi's Il ritorno di Ulisse in patria. In Performing Homer: The Voyage of Ulysses from Epic to Opera, scholars in classics, drama, Italian literature, art history, and musicology explore the journey of Homer's Odyssey from ancient to modern times. The book traces the reception of the Odyssey though the Italian humanist sources—from Dante, Petrarch, and Ariosto—to the treatment of the tale not only by Monteverdi but also such composers as Elizabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, Gluck, and Alessandro Scarlatti, and the dramatic and poetic traditions thereafter by such modern writers as Derek Walcott and Margaret Atwood.

    Part 1 Epic Theatricalities

    1. Soundings of the lyre: Performing Homer in archaic Greece Deborah Steiner

    2. "Like an expert singer skilled at lyre and song": Reading the Odyssey as Opera George A. Harne

    3. Ariosto’s Ulysses: Medieval Homer and the Querelle de Femmes - Eleonora Stoppino

    Part 2 Staging a Baroque Homer

    4. La castità rinforzata: from Homer to Monteverdi Ellen Rosand

    5. Drama, not Epic: Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria and the Aesthetic Discourse in Subsequent Librettos Hendrik Schulze

    6. Singing Love and Dancing War: The Ballo in Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria - Michaela Baranello

    7. Reimagining Ulysses: Spectacular Stage Effects in Contemporary Productions of Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria - Andrew Eggert

    Part 3 Traditions and Afterlife

    8. The Illiad and the Odyssey in the Epic Maggio of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines Jo Ann Cavallo

    9. The Failure of Scarlatti’s Telemaco - Robert C. Ketterer

    10. Intertextual Travel: Cantata as a Mode of Homeric Reception in Early 18th-Century France Michele Cabrini

    11. Late Victorian Musical Odysseys. Scholarship, and Translation: The Curious Case of Samuel Butler Edith Hall


    12. Ulysses’s Fantastic Voyage, from Dante to Wolcott Pietro Frassica


    Wendy Heller is the Scheide Professor of Music History and Chair of the Department of Music, Princeton University, USA. She specializes in the the study of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century opera from interdisciplinary perspectives, with emphasis on gender and sexuality, art history, and the classical tradition.

    Eleonora Stoppino is Associate Professor of Italian, Medieval Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Illinois, USA, where she directs the Program in Medieval Studies. She has published articles on Dante, Boccaccio, Ariosto, Tasso, the Italian epic tradition, and medieval conduct literature.