Los Angeles Times
, June 2003
"Stage director Klaus-Michael Gruber pares down "Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria," composed in 1640 but rediscovered only in 1878, to essentials. An angled revolving stage brings into view now a shoreline, now the whitewashed facade of a house on a Greek island. The spotlight is on human emotions, not scenery. And what a range of them - from serious to gleeful, from mayfly passionate heat to sober adult love. Gruber's use of marionettes for the suitors in this variation on the Odyssey doesn't make a particularly clear point, but it doesn't detract either, and his presentation of Neptune as the petulant squabbler in the dysfunctional family of gods is provocative. With her vibrant, romantic mezzo, Kasarova initially seems miscast as Penelope, but she quickly triumphs through her intensity and focus. Henschel is simply staggering as Ulisse. Both singers are seconded by a powerful cast. Harnoncourt leads what looks like a mix of period and modern instruments with deep involvement, sensitivity and taste. "Orfeo" is a beautiful fable about gods, demigods and idealized shepherds, but "Ulisse" is an overwhelming drama about us all. **** Stars."