Luigi Nono

Prometeo: Tragedia Dell'ascolto (Prometheus: A Tragedy About Listening)

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Composed in 1984-1985, this most unusual dramatic and philosophical work of some two-and-a-quarter-hours duration (performed here by the Soloistenchor Freiburg and the Ensemble Modern conducted by Ingo Metzmacher, with live electronic realizations by the Experimentalstudio der Heinrich-Strobel-Stiftung des S├╝dwestfunks Freiburg) is written for recorded and live singing and speaking voices, chorus (at times a cappella), four orchestral groups, and many solo instruments including musical glasses. It is intended as a "dramma in musica" (a drama in music) and uses electronic sound-projection techniques -- amplification, distribution, reverberation, echo, etc. -- to enhance the acoustic space. Nono pointed out that his previous "azione scenica" (scenic action) entitled "Al Gran Sole Carico d'Amore," a lavish stage spectacle about failed revolutions of the 20th century, was "unbelievably limited." With "Prometeo," he went in the other direction and avoided all historical references and theatricality. "We must learn to live with...multiplicities and with differences," stated Massimo Cacciari, philosopher and librettist for "Prometeo." Prometheus is thus a wanderer in this world. The texts of "Prometeo" are fragments from Greek, Italian, and German classics, modern philosophy, poetry, and mythology, and are further dissolved into sound per se, no longer recognizable as words. Instrumental doublings of vocal pitches also give the illusion of the voices as textures. An unremitting atmosphere of mystery and spiritual transparency prevades the continuously evolving invention of the work.