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Al Gran Sole Carico d’Amore

Salzburg Festival

2009 & 2012

‘One of the great opera productions of the Salzburg Festival’

This project marks the 6th collaboration between director Katie Mitchell and 59 Productions creative director Leo Warner. The production – which was part of the Salzburg International Festival’s 2009 season – presented seminal Italian composer Luigi Nono’s extraordinary opera using the intricate live filming techniques developed over previous productions including After Dido (ENO 2009), Wunschkonzert (Schauspiel Koln, 2008) and …some trace of her (National Theatre, 2008).

“‘Beauty is not opposed to revolution’ as a saying by Ernesto Che Guevara goes. This sentence hangs like a banner over the works of Luigi Nono, the Italian composer who has been the cause of passionate discussions for years. Guevara’s sentence is also the title for the prologue of Nono’s opera Al gran sole carico d’amore – which means “In the Bright Sunshine, Charged with Love” and refers to a poem by Arthur Rimbaud. Nono calls his composition for music theater an azione scenica in two parts. There is no traditional dramaturgy in this work. Today, one would call it a great collage, with texts by Brecht, Gorky, Pavese, Rimbaud and many others. The basic idea of the piece is the eternal female presence in life, in war, in love; yesterday, today, tomorrow, interwoven by anticipation and fragmentation, from the Cuban Revolution to the 1917 Soviet one, from the Russian Revolution of 1905 to the Paris Commune, leading into the Italian Resistenza. Basically, this opera is a great requiem for lost hopes and the failing of utopias – and together with Alban Berg’s Wozzeck and Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten, it is one of the great works of modern music theater.”

Jurgen Flimm (Artistic Director, Salzburg International Festival)

Salzburg Festival

Staatsoper Berlin

Opened 2009

Salzburg Festival

The controversial theatre and operatic director Katie Mitchell turns random agitprop into a cinematic feast in Salzburg … Mitchell’s production of Luigi Nono’s “azione scenica” — scenic action — Al gran sole carico d’amore (Towards the Sun, Heavy with Love, a quotation from Arthur Rimbaud) is the talking point of the festival and a continuation of her experimental “instant live cinema” work in the theatre, which has divided London opinion so sharply. … One can only marvel at the technical bravura with which she accomplishes her split-second-timed live movies — in a work of two hours’ duration, some scenes had to be prefilmed — and the energy of her singer-actor-camera operators, who have to swap functions in seconds. The festival’s director, Jurgen Flimm, put remarkable resources at Mitchell’s disposal, and his investment has paid off with a true festival event.
Sunday evening saw the premiere of one of the great opera productions of the Salzburg Festival: Luigi Nono’s Al gran sole carico d’amore “(In the great sun, heavy with love). … The trick of the spectacular staging is the massive video screen, like an art installation that dominates the stage. On the vast concrete slab, scraps of revolutionary posters can be seen – their original message only guessed at. On this you watch a film sequence of live cinematic pictures from the private rooms of five women’s lives – the process is “extremely complicated and extremely risky,” Mitchell said in an interview with APA. The fact that everything functions is the job of video designer Leo Warner, with his company “59 Productions’: acclaimed specialist in delicate cross-media effects on opera and theater stages.
Katie Mitchell’s brilliant production, with designs by Vicki Mortimer, makes ingenious use of the huge Felsenreitschule stage, with the action occurring in various cubicles, all captured on camera by a dimly visible production team, then projected against a surface whose imperfections give the illusion of an Impressionistic painting. Soloists and chorus are positioned on one side, with the orchestra, including separately stationed percussion, also very much a part of the show.

‘A very unusual interplay of drama, technology, music’


Luigi Nono

Ingo Metzmacher

Katie Mitchell

Director of Photography
Leo Warner

Vicki Mortimer

Lighting Designer
Bruno Poet