What is music in opera? In Monteverdi's Orfeo, his first opera, music is arguably the protagonist, whether La Musica in the prologue, whose ritornello guides Orfeo to and from the Underworld, or embodied in the legendary singer himself, who uses his musical prowess to charm the guardians of Hell. In Il ritorno d'Ulisse, however, there is no such protagonist, no single embodiment of musical power. In the largest sense, of course, and in contrast to straight drama – the plays of Euripides, Shakespeare or Calderon may have some music in them but are essentially spoken – all of Il ritorno d'Ulisse, all of most operas, is music. But in Monteverdi's sense (and in the librettist Badoaro's), that music is divided into ‘speech’ and ‘song’ – or, speech-like and musical utterances.