Die the Komische Oper Berlin is a structural renovation case. Extensive work and an expanding new building are planned for the coming years. The premiere of Luigi Nono’s “Intolleranza 1960” on Friday evening seemed to anticipate a lot of the coming upheavals. For Marco Štorman’s production, stage designer Márton Ágh completely rebuilt the opera house: the auditorium has been transformed into a sea of ice, the orchestra plays in the second tier, conductor Gabriel Feltz stands on a pedestal in front of the balustrade at a height of almost eight meters, which in the end was enthusiastic Premiere audience perched on the stage and around the end-times scenario.
Nono’s first music theater work, in a twelve-tone technique based on his father-in-law Arnold Schönberg, tells of the social problems and political catastrophes of his time. At the same time, the material reaches seamlessly into current conflicts. The communist Nono also uses texts by Jean-Paul Sartre or Bertolt Brecht.
It’s about a migrant worker (Sean Panikkar) who is looking for a way back to life in a frozen world. On an odyssey he gets into troubles, is tortured and fights against injustice. «Violence announces itself. It’s not just there,” says a text by author Carolin Emcke that is integrated into the opera. The migrant’s shelter is eventually washed away by a flood.
The apocalyptic mood in the sea of ice of the stage design is pushed to the limit by Nono’s music. The orchestra fills the acoustic space with six timpani and twelve percussion alone. With Nono, the meaning of words is also conveyed through sound quality. The voices in the choir sometimes only sing one word at a time, only together do sentences and melody emerge – this is not fully understandable. Harmony doesn’t count with Nono anyway.
The evening turns into a music-theatrical bang, with which the new dual leadership Susanne Moser and Philip Bröking lead the artistic directorship of Barrie ein Kosky. At the end there is much cheering and sustained applause for soloists, choir, orchestra and directors.