Wikipedia:Peer review/Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria/archive1

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Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria[edit]

(more info)

This peer review discussion has been closed.

Il ritorno d'Ulisse is the first of Monteverdi's three late operas, all composed in Venice during the last years of the composer's long life. The middle one of the trio is lost (at the moment, but these things have a habit of turning up), so Il ritorno forms a companion piece with L'incoronazione di Poppea. I have structured the article largely in the Poppea format. If you don't want to read the article, then at any rate listen to Penelope's lament on the sound file, and savour that. I hope, however, that you will want to read it, and your thoughts and comments on all aspects of the article will be greatly appreciated. Brianboulton (talk) 21:22, 24 February 2010 (UTC)

Comments from Tim riley: The article is first rate – easy to read (even by a lost soul who can't abide Monteverdi), full of relevant information and beautifully referenced. I have corrected a dozen or so minor typos – though please check that you're happy with my changes. Otherwise, here is a modest clutch of suggestions, most of them quite minor.

  • Opening para (after lead)
    • Venice carnival/Carnival – consistency of capitalisation throughout the article.
      • All "carnivals" now successfully decapitalised. Brianboulton (talk) 17:57, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
    • Le nozze d' Enea in Lavinia – an unexpected preposition: ought it to be Le nozze d' Enea con Lavinia?
      • Tim Carter and Geoffrey Chew both use "in Lavinia". Mark Ringer uses "con". Ellen Rosand uses "e Lavinia". It seems there is no established form, but I reckon it's OK to follow Carter and Chew, unless there is an authoritative reason not to. Brianboulton (talk) 17:57, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
  • Libretto
    • "All but one of the 12 identifies Badoaro as the author, the other gives no name" – stronger stop than a comma needed? And shouldn't it be "All but one … identify" (plural)?
    • "Some of the libretto copies indicate locate" – needs pruning.
      • Both these amended as you suggest. Brianboulton (talk) 17:57, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
  • Composition
    • "the medium of opera which he had mastered and then left, 30 years earlier" – this doesn't actually contradict the earlier statement "Alongside his steady output of madrigals and church music, Monteverdi continued to compose works for the stage" as no pukka operas are listed at the earlier entry, but it brought me up short till I had checked back. ("He wrote several ballets and, for the Venice Carnival of 1624–25, the semi-opera Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda ("The Battle of Tancred and Clorinda".") I wonder if it might be helpful to mention at that point that he wrote no actual operas for 30 years?
      • I have clarified in the earlier section that Monteverdi wrote no actual operas for the 30 years following Orfeo. I have also removed the description "semi-opera" from Il Combattimento, since none of the sources use it and I think I probably made it up. The sources all call it "unclassifiable". Brianboulton (talk) 17:57, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
  • Roles
    • "This approximates to the normal forces employed in Venetian opera." – Ought this statement to be backed by a citation?
      • All the information in this paragraph is covered by the end-of-para citation to Carter, pp. 101–03. Brianboulton (talk) 17:57, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
    • "Modern performances tend to transpose" – this reads a bit oddly, as if the operas did it of their own volition; perhaps "usually" rather than "tend to"?
    • In the table "Barcelona" makes a sudden and highly unexpected appearance (with two further mentions later in the table). Is this a spell-check accident for "Bologna"?
      • Can't blame the spellchecker I'm afraid. It was me, daydreaming about the prospect of a Spring citybreak, perhaps. I have amended. Brianboulton (talk) 17:57, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
  • Act 3
    • "Melanto, whose lover Eurimacus was slain with the suitors, tries to apprise Penelope…" – Perhaps "killed" and "warn" might be plainer.
  • Early performances
    • "The opera's revival in Venice only one season after its première was very unusual, almost unique in the 17th century" – another statement that might be better for a citation.
      • The citation is at the sentence' end. Brianboulton (talk) 17:57, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
    • "the 1639–40 and 1640–41 performances were at the Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo" – this has earlier been labelled Teatro SS Giovanni e Paolo. Would it be better to call it Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo at first mention and then Teatro SS Giovanni e Paolo at all later ones?
    • "Alan Curtis dates the manuscript's arrival in Vienna to 1675, during the reign of the Emperor Leopold I." – Is there some significance to the particular reign – e.g. was Leopold I a famous patron of music? If not, it is relevant to mention him here?
      • Leopold was indeed a famous patron of music and a reputable composer. I will find an authoratitve source to that effect, and put it into the text. Brianboulton (talk) 17:57, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
  • Modern revivals
    • "The BBC introduced the opera to British listeners with a radio broadcast on 16 January 1928, again using the d'Indy edition." – Citation wanted?
      • Covered by [38] a couple of lines down, but I have repeated the ref to avoid confusion. Brianboulton (talk) 17:57, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
    • "The opera entered the mainstream in the early 1970s" – "mainstream" is stretching it a bit, I'd say. It isn't in the Bohème, Carmen, Meistersinger class when it comes to regular performances. Memory tells me (perhaps wrongly) that it has yet to be staged at, e.g., the Garden or the Coliseum.
      • You are right about ENO and ROH - no performances from either. "Entered the mainstream" is Rosand's wording, but perhaps "entered a wider repertory" might be more accurate. I've changed to that. Brianboulton (talk) 17:57, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
    • "a production in Edinburgh later described as "infamous"." – I think readers would like to know the nature and extent of its infamy.
      • Unfortunately the source doesn't elaborate. Possibly the reviewer was having a dig at Harnoncourt. I'll look around, and maybe take it out if it can't be substantiated. Brianboulton (talk) 17:57, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
        • On looking into this I see that Stanley Sadie praised the singers but roasted the production in The Times (4 Sept 1978, pg. 9) for "the frivolity and indeed coarseness of the production" Tim riley (talk) 19:06, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
  • Music
    • "JN" in The Gramophone was Jeremy Noble. You can confirm this from the list of reviewers on p. 41 of the issue in question.
      • Overlooked - sorry, now amended. Brianboulton (talk) 17:57, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
    • "a reiteration of E flats that, per Ringer" – according to Ringer?
  • Recording history
    • "The first recording of the opera was issued in 1964, a version incorporating substantial cuts." – Would it be worth naming the forces responsible for this pioneering recording?
      • It's in the discography list, but I've now mentioned Vox in the article
  • Notes
    • Note 4: "However, Ambros died in 1876, so the year of discovery would have been earlier" – This reads like a glimpse of the obvious, and might perhaps be more neutrally expressed if inverted, thus-ish: However, if Ambros made the discovery, the year must have been earlier, as he died in 1876"[1]"
      • Yes, your phrasing is better and I've adopted it. Brianboulton (talk) 17:57, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
  • References
    • You make five mentions of Kennedy, p. 732 (note 38) but he doesn't appear in the list of sources below.

Hope these few comments are useful. – Tim riley (talk) 12:18, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

  • Very useful indeed and very helpful - many thanks. Could I ask you to do one more thing? I've added a non-free image to Act 1 of the synopsis, showing the Faeci ship turned to stone. Would you mind reading the rationale on the image page, and telling me if you think the justification I've given is adequate? Brianboulton (talk) 17:57, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
The crux, it seems to me, is whether your reasons meet the criterion "its presence would significantly increase readers' understanding of the topic, and its omission would be detrimental to that understanding." I think they do. As you rightly say, readers of the article will wonder how the petrification of the ship could be depicted on an operatic stage, and the image demonstrates how. I'd be inclined to underline this point in the caption - adding something like " – showing how the effect was managed in the opera house" – Tim riley (talk) 19:06, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

Jonyungk comments:[edit]

It is always difficult to peer review one of your articles, Brian, because the overall quality of your work is always so high. In general, this article is impeccably phrased and sourced. My comments therefore are of minor issues that can be ameliorated easily.


  • This differs in many respects from the numerous surviving versions of the libretto, and after publication in 1922 the authenticity of the score was often questioned during the next 30 years, performances remaining rare. This sentence feels long and convoluted, with "performances remaining rare" seeming tacked on. Would it be better split into two?
  • I know this is the lead, but the final sentence in the third paragraph still needs a reference since you use a direct quote.
    • I've split the long sentence. As to the ugly duckling remark, this is cited to Arnold in the text. We don't want it cited twice, so I've evaded the issue by removing the quote marks in the lead. Brianboulton (talk) 18:42, 26 February 2010 (UTC)

Historical context

  • The theatre's inaugural performance, on 6 March 1637, was L'Andromeda by Francesco Manelli and Benedetto Ferrari, received with great enthusiasm as was the same pair's La Maga fulminata the following year. I know what you're saying here but the sentence is a little hard to follow.



  • Most of these appear to be 18th century copies, possibly from a single source; some are literary rather than performance versions. No problem on phrasing here, but I'm curious what the difference is between literary and performance versions of a libretto. Would a few words of explanation be helpful for those who would like to know?
    • A performance version is one prepared for a specific performance of the work, at a particular theatre, with a particular stage design and with other local factors in mind, including directorial whim. Cuts may be made, scenes shifted around, characterisations changed, etc. A literary version is the pure text presented as literature, independent of performance considerations. I don't want to have to explain all that, so I've changed it to "some are literary versions, unrelated to any theatrical performances." Does that clarify? Brianboulton (talk) 18:42, 26 February 2010 (UTC)
      • Not really, but I can see your point and how explaining can really bog things down unnessarily. Probably best to leave things as you have them now. Jonyungk (talk) 07:01, 27 February 2010 (UTC)


Act 2

  • After Eumete leaves to inform Penelope of Telemaco's arrival, a bolt of fire descends, transforming Ulisse who now reveals his identity to his son. A little convoluted.
  • Eumete's message is overheard by the suitors, who plot to kill Telemaco but are unnerved when a symbolic eagle flies overhead; they abandon their plan and decide to renew their efforts to capture Penelope's heart, this time with gold. Should this be two sentences?

Reception and performance history

Early performances

  • From markings in the extant score, it is likely that the first Venice performances were in five acts, the three-act form being introduced either in Bologna in the second Venice season.[31] Missing "there or" after "either"?
  • It did, however, demand some spectacular special effects; a ship turns to stone, an airborne chariot transports Minerva, a bolt of fire transforms Ulisse.[36] Colon instead of semi-colon.
    • I hate colons in prose. However, as a list of more than two items follows, I suppose it has to be so. Brianboulton (talk) 18:42, 26 February 2010 (UTC)

Modern revivals

  • The Vienna performance used a new edition prepared by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, whose subsequent partnership with the French opera director Jean-Pierre Ponnelle led to the staging of the opera in many European cities, including a production in Edinburgh later described as "infamous";[42] at the time, critic Stanley Sadie praised the singers, but criticised the production for its "frivolity and indeed coarseness".[43] This sentence is reasonably clear but so long that I keep losing my way mid-way through it. Would it be easier to read split into two?


  • Later analysts were more positive; to Mark Ringer Il ritorno is ... Colon instead of semi-colon.
    • Not this time - two-item list conjoined with an "and"
  • Speech", usually in the form of recitative, delivers information and moves the action forward, while musical utterances ... Should "musical utterances" also be in quote marks?
    • There are too many quote marks round about here, so I've limited them to first mentions. Brianboulton (talk) 18:42, 26 February 2010 (UTC)

An excellent job overall. Jonyungk (talk) 16:48, 26 February 2010 (UTC)

Thank you for your time and trouble, and for your help in improving the article. Brianboulton (talk) 18:42, 26 February 2010 (UTC)

Laser brain's comments It's really good! I performed some minor fixes that were stray MoS problems or slippery fingers on the keyboard. Please treat the following as suggestions only, not "make or break" items.

  • "the unclassifiable Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda" Is "unclassifiable" the fairest description? From the linked article, it seems difficult or contentious to classify.
  • You have a bit of a penchant for beginning sentences with the imprecise "this" without restating what. Consider "This (score) differs in many respects from the numerous surviving versions of the libretto", "This (opera) was received with great enthusiasm", and so on. I understand the construction is quite difficult for ESL readers to parse without the precision.
  • I'm not certain I agree with your reasoning for omitting the quotes around "ugly duckling" in the lead. You are still quoting Arnold and thus require attribution in both places, correct?
  • "The first recording of the opera was issued in 1964 by Vox, in a version which incorporated substantial cuts." This nagged at me a bit, because the "in a version" seems to be attached to "issued" (It was issued ... in a version). Can we omit "in" safely?

Another fine piece. --Andy Walsh (talk) 01:55, 27 February 2010 (UTC)

  • Thank you for the review and the helpful comments. I have tweaked accordingly; I had not realised my tendency to begin sentences with "This..." and have clarified several instances. I'm still not sure about the need to cite Arnold's comment in the lead and in the text, but I've added the lead citation anyway. Any view you have on the fair use rationale would be much appreciated. Brianboulton (talk) 16:25, 27 February 2010 (UTC)

Comments from Elcobbola (talk · contribs)

  • Brianboulton asked me to check licensing for File:Head Odysseus MAR Sperlonga.jpg and File:Mnesterophonia Louvre CA7124.jpg. Both works are well-described (specific physical location, dated, etc.) and the derivative photos indeed have the characteristics one would expect to see in "self made" photos (high resolution, camera meta-data, etc.) Licensing seems verifiable and correct. To be overly pedantic, however, it's generally a good idea for derivative photos of 3D works to have licenses for both the original and the derivative (i.e. add {{PD-art-70-3d}} or Commons equivalent).
    Unfortunately I can't establish what the Commons equivalent licence is. Brianboulton (talk) 18:50, 5 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Regarding others:
  • Hope this helps. Эlcobbola talk 17:09, 1 March 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for this very quick response to my request. Your comments are a great help. The one outstanding problem I have is how to make the ship image lower resolution. Is there a procedure? It's the most interesting image in the article and I don't want to lose it. Brianboulton (talk) 21:10, 1 March 2010 (UTC)
No real procedure other than finding someone with an image editing program and a minute of spare time [1]. Does the reduction look ok? Эlcobbola talk 21:22, 1 March 2010 (UTC)
It looks fine. It's hard in fact to see any real difference from my version and it still illustrates the article effectively - thank you for doing this. Brianboulton (talk) 09:39, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

Ruhrfisch comments Very nicely done - here are some nitpicky suggestions for improvement

  • Since the article title is italicized in the article itself, would it help to use {{italic title}} - see Croesia semipurpurana for an example of this in use
  • Would it help to link Ulisse, Penelope, Telemachus and any other characters from the Odyssey in the lead? I think most people who know who Ulysses is will recognize "Ulisse", but you never know. This is done later in the Roles section
    • I have added links in the lead for Ulisse, Penelope, Telemaco and Ithaca. To avoid a "double-blue" with Trojan Wars I have linked the second Ulisse mention.
  • Since it is not a direct quotation (not "ugly duckling"), not sure why the ugly duckling phrase is cited in the lead. Or does it need to be in quotes?
    • I thought that as the quote is cited in the text I needn't do so in the lead, but I was told otherwise during this PR. As the words are precisely quoted they ought to be in quotes, which I have now restored.
      • It used to be (have not checked recently) that both WP:LEAD and WP:MOSQUOTE said that direct quotations in the lead should be cited. Ruhrfisch ><>°° 17:57, 7 March 2010 (UTC)
  • I think this needs to be clearer English wordings used in the synopsis are from Geoffrey Dunn's translation, based on Raymond Leppard's 1971 edition;[29] and from Hugh Ward-Perkins's translation issued with Sergio Vartolo's 2006 recording for Brilliant Classics.[30] I owuld make clear that the "English wordings" are the English names of the arias (or whatever they are) that are sung. I would also say here that the Italian names are given in the notes.
    • The English translations in the synopsis are lines (not necessarily first lines) from the "scenes" into which this opera is divided. Each scene is a compound of recitative, arioso, aria and occasional ensemble. I have altered the text to make this clearer, and drawn attention to the Italian versions in the footnotes.
  • Could an introductory sentence or two be added to the List of musical items section?
    • Introductory note added.
  • Would it be possible to inidicate here which of the numbers are arias, ariosos, recitatives, etc.?
    • Not really, because of the nature of the "scenes", as explained in the introductory note just added. Most scenes contain all these elements, quite apart from the fact that Monteverdi tended to blur the boundaries between them.
  • In the alt text, I think the text of the book page visible is supposed to be given in full per WP:ALT
  • I am also not sure that the average reader would recognize the stone head as that of Ulysses for the alt text there. in WP:ALT, Proper names Alt text typically should not name people or objects in an image
    • I have amended both alt exts as recommended.

Seems fine to me otherwise - I listened to the sound clip too, which I liked. Hope this helps, and let me know when this is at FAC, Ruhrfisch ><>°° 05:57, 7 March 2010 (UTC)

Thank you for your suggestions, all more or less adopted. Most helpful as always. Brianboulton (talk) 16:10, 7 March 2010 (UTC)
Very glad to help, these were all nitpicks. Ruhrfisch ><>°° 17:57, 7 March 2010 (UTC)
    • ^ Cite error: The named reference ODM was invoked but never defined (see the help page).