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La Biennale di Venezia

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A Special Project of the Historical Archive for the centennial of the birth of Luigi Nono
Historical Archive -

A Special Project of the Historical Archive for the centennial of the birth of Luigi Nono

New staging of Prometeo, 26-29 January at Ocean Space, Chiesa di San Lorenzo. Seminar on 29 January at the Biennale Library (Giardini).

Prometeo. Tragedia dell’ascolto
by Luigi Nono
January 26-27-28-29, 2024
Church of San Lorenzo (Venice)

Seminar on January 29, Biennale Library (Giardini)

Prometeo. Tragedia dell’ascolto
by Luigi Nono

To celebrate the centennial of the birth of the great Venetian composer Luigi Nono (29 January 1924), La Biennale di Venezia presents a Special Project of the Historical Archive of Contemporary Arts (ASAC) for a new staging of the opera Prometeo. Tragedia dell’ascolto by Luigi Nono produced by Biennale Musica in 1984, which will be performed from the 26 to 29 January 2024 in the Church of San Lorenzo, now Ocean Space / TBA21-Academy, where the original performance was held.

“A tragedy composed of sounds, with the complicity of a space” (L. Nono), the Prometeo performed at the Church of San Lorenzo in 1984 was a memorable event. For the complexity of the concept, which subverted aesthetics, cultures, rules and conventions, representing a summa of Luigi Nono’s extensive research. For the grandness of the endeavour, which involved personalities such as Renzo Piano, Claudio Abbado, Emilio Vedova. For the use of the most awe-inspiring and advanced technological complex of the time, with the first experiments in live electronics, the manipulation of sound in real time. For the genesis of a composition intimately connected to a city, Venice, a living example of the “acoustic multiverse” that Nono pursued, linked to a space, the church of San Lorenzo. A uniqueness that makes Prometeo a work that holds the same fascination today.

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Special Project

Prometeo returns to its original venue forty years later. “This wood, these stone-spaces in San Lorenzo, infinite breaths”, wrote Luigi Nono. The deconsecrated seventeenth-century church of San Lorenzo, with its most unusual plan divided lengthwise by the altar into two hemicycles, will host the structure-space re-imagined, in keeping with the composer’s thinking, by Antonello Pocetti and Antonino Viola with lighting by Tommaso Zappon. An essential and open set that embraces the audience with a series of accessible interconnected seats at three different heights, which like modern “choirs” position soloists, vocal and instrumental ensembles at different points in the space. At the centre stands Marco Angius, the Italian conductor who has most frequently conducted and recorded Luigi Nono, who will rely on a system of monitors to reach and conduct, with the assistance of Filippo Perocco, four orchestral groups, two ensembles of instrumental and vocal soloists, chorus and narrating voices – 79 elements in all – distributed as if in a “multispace” for the pluri-directional listening experience sought by the Venetian composer.

The Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto will perform along with the outstanding musicians on the flute and tuba Roberto Fabbriciani and Giancarlo Schiaffini, who with the wizard of sound Alvise Vidolin for the electronic part and Massimo Cacciari, curator of a head-spinning web of texts and languages, participated in the first legendary edition. With them, important soloists: Carlo Lazari on the viola, Michele Marco Rossi on the cello, Roberta Gottardi on the clarinet, Emiliano Amadori on the double bass; the voices of singers Livia Rado, Rosaria Angotti, Chiara Osella, Katarzyna Otczyk, Marco Rencinai, the narrating voices of Sofia Pozdniakova and Jacopo Giacomoni, in addition to the Coro del Friuli Venezia Giulia with chorus master Cristiano Dell’Oste.

A vital contribution to the live electronics will come from Nicola Bernardini and Luca Richelli beside the sound director Alvise Vidolin, a direct witness to the transition from the analogue technology of the past to the fully digital technology of the present, from the formidable machines created in the heart of the Studio in Freiburg and at Ircam in 1984, to the infinitely reduced dimensions of today’s most powerful computers, which required a massive effort to transcribe the opera’s data and simulate the analogue equipment at the Centro di Sonologia Computazionale of the University of Padua.

Divided into a prologue, five islands, two stasima, an epilogue, Prometeo. Tragedia dell’ascolto immerses the audience into a sound that “reads the space” and into a space that “discovers, reveals the sound… And provokes a sudden, imperceptible being in the sound, and not beginning to perceive it, to feel like part of the space, play” (L. Nono).

Luigi Nono and Prometeo

The Special Project for the new staging of Prometeo. Tragedia dell’ascolto involved the work of the Historic Archive of La Biennale (ASAC) and the Fondazione Archivio Luigi Nono, which signed an agreement with La Biennale di Venezia to transfer its materials to the Biennale’s International Centre for Research in the Contemporary Arts, currently under construction at the Arsenale.

The new staging of the opera is part of the programme to enhance this transfer, in conjunction with the dedicated one-day seminar titled Prometeo yesterday and today. Luigi Nono’s utopia 100 years after his birth, which will be held on January 29th, the day of the anniversary, at 2:30 pm at the Biennale Library in the Giardini. Speakers will include Massimo Cacciari, Carlo Fontana, Alvise Vidolin and Lucia Ronchetti with Marco Angius. The moderator will be Andrea Estero, director of the “Classic Voice” magazine. With introductory remarks by Roberto Cicutto, President of La Biennale, Debora Rossi, Head of the Historic Archive, and Nuria Schoenberg Nono, President of the Fondazione Archivio Luigi Nono.

Prometeo. Tragedia dell’ascolto by Luigi Nono

Prometeo. Tragedia dell’ascolto is one of the Special Projects of the Historic Archive (ASAC), in a dialogue between the arts which La Biennale di Venezia initiated in 2020  with the exhibition titled The Disquieted Muses. La Biennale di Venezia Meets History, held in the Central Pavilion in the Giardini, and continued in 2022 with Archèus. Labirinto Mozart at Forte Marghera (Mestre), to offer far-reaching cultural events that enhance memory and the documents from the archives.

Prometeo. Tragedia dell’ascolto has been developed by La Biennale di Venezia, in collaboration with the Fondazione Archivio Luigi Nono and with TBA21-Academy, the research centre of the Fundación TBA21, which restored and returned the Church of San Lorenzo to the city.