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Intolleranza 1960

Reel 1/2: Introduction and ACT I Approximate date: 1965

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Intolleranza 1960
Program Description

“ ‘Intolleranza’ is an outspoken and controversial opera of social protest written by one of the leading proponents of 12-tone music in Italy today, Luigi Nono, the son-in-law of the late Arnold Schoenberg. It is a symbolic musical drama that protests war, intolerance, oppression, colonialism and Fascism. Its principal character is a refugee who searches for reality and the meaning of life against a background of a Nazi concentration camp, a mine disaster and other such scenes. The opera is a montage of styles, ideas and images, employing 12-tone music, electronic music, pre-recorded choruses, and television cameras and projection screens that multiply the events of the play. For its television premiere, NET and WGBH-TV, Boston, have re-staged the production of Sarah Caldwell's Opera Company of Boston, which gave the American premiere in February, 1965. The cast includes soprano Beverly Sills, mezzo-soprano Margaret Roggero, tenor Lawrence White, baritone Ercole Bertolino and bass Guus Hoekman. Bruno Moderna conducted, and Sarah Caldwell staged the original.” Lighting and scene design by Josef Svoboda.

The formal title of work is ‘Intolleranza 1960’ yet it was performed February 21 (originally planned for the 19th, the tenor was replaced shortly before premiere, thus moving date to two days later) 1965, later shots done in the WGBH studios, were added to the television broadcast. The opera is preceded by a 15 minute introduction that features comments and analysis by Boston theatre critic Elliot Norton; WGBH Radio personality William Cavness; and then Boston Globe Arts critic Michael Steinberg; and (2) unidentified men. Later in the introductory segment, actor George Serries presents “program notes” detailing the behind the scenes controversy that surrounded the staging of the opera in Boston. Luigi Nono presents his side of the issue in a filmed segment shot in Venice, Italy with a translational narration by WGBH’s Dan Beach. B&W, 1965; copyright bug at end of film “National Educational Television and Radio Center all rights reserved.”



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Performing Arts
Harney, Greg (Producer)
Chicago: “Intolleranza 1960,” GBH Archives, accessed June 19, 2024,
MLA: “Intolleranza 1960.” GBH Archives. Web. June 19, 2024. <>.
APA: Intolleranza 1960. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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