Il Ritorno d’Ulisse

In Kentridge’s version of Monteverdi’s work, Ulisse lies centre stage in a hospital bed in Johannesburg. His visions, dreams and thoughts are conveyed to the audience via the local performance of the opera singers. Before dying, Ulisse remembers his return from his ten-year expedition following the Trojan War to find his wife Penelope besieged with suitors and his son Telemachus in duress. The dying Ulisse puppet watches his former self re-enact his return to Penelope and his defeat of her suitors.

Creative Team

Production: Standard Bank National Arts Festival, the State Theatre, Mannie Manim Productions, the Flemish government, Wiener Festwochen (Vienna) and Kunsten Festival des Arts (Brussels)
Director: William Kentridge
Musical director: Philippe Pierlot
Set, puppet and costume design: Adrian Kohler
Puppet master: Adrian Kohler
Singers: Scot Weir, Guilemette Laurens,Wilke Te Brummelstroete, Vincent Pavesi, Margarida Natividade, Peter Evans, Stephen van Dyck


Adrian Kohler, Basil Jones, Louis Seboko, Busi Zokufa, Tau Qwelane


Philippe Pierlot (treble violin, bass violin), Vincent Dumestre (Theorbol Guitar), Sophie Watillon (treble violin, bass violin), Paulina van Laarhoven (lirone, bass violin), David Sinclaire (vioione), Marion Fourquier (triple harp)


1998 South Africa, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Portugal, France, USA, Luxembourg, Italy, Australia and UK

Read the NY Times review here

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