This magnificent and controversial opera is performed here by vocal soloists David Rampy and Urszula Koszut as refugees, among others, with Chor der Staatsoper Stuttgart and Staatsorchester Stuttgart conducted by Bernhard Kontarsky. Premiered as "Intolleranza 1960" and later revised as "Intolleranza 1970," this is Nono's first opera. Its premiere was an internationally reported scandal (even Time magazine gave the event a full page) similar to that of other groundbreaking works, with people attempting to shout down the musicians and political leaflets raining from the upper balconies. Some of the protest related to Nono's membership in the Italian Communist party, and had little to do with the opera itself. In fact, the text attacks segregation, the atomic bomb, and Nazism, concluding with a plea to prevent civilization from destruction. Like D.W. Griffith's famous movie epic of the same name with its widely ranging historical periods, Nono's opera journeys through a vast contemporary scene, drawing from European history but applicable worldwide. The cast includes the two refugees as well as demonstrators, police, Algerians, farmers, miners, torturers, and fanatics. Additionally, a scene focusing on "some absurdities of contemporary life" includes projections, voices, magnetic tape, and mimes. The colorful and pointillistic orchestral music is brilliant and dramatic, giving full rein to Nono's techniques of dividing and overlapping the text syllables to create new dimensions of meaning. Nono has written that the opera concerns "the wakening of human awareness in a man who has rebelled against the demands of necessity…and searches for a reason and a 'human' basis for life." Although experiencing intolerance and domination before being "swept away in a flood with other people," he remains certain of "a time when man will be a help to man." "Symbol? Reportage? Fantasy?" Nono asks. "All three, in a story of our time."
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