Prometeo Musical Space | Renzo Piano | Venice and Milan, Italy, 1983/1984



Preceded by a project for IRCAM (the Institute of Contemporary Music and Sound Research) in Paris during the 1970s, this project was the brainchild of Luigi Nono, who in May of 1983 engaged the Renzo Piano Building Workshop to design a “musical space” for an opera that he was working on at the time: “Prometeo”.
The music that Luigi Nono had composed for the opera Prometeo was intended to surround the spectator, arising from various locations and with alternating points of origin using the traditional sounds of the voices themselves, while simultaneously manipulating them with sophisticated electronic equipment. This gave rise to the need for a space that would allow for a new relationship to be established between the audience and the musical performance: the idea was to revolutionize the layout of a traditional theatre or concert hall.
This ‘musical space’ was designed as if it were to be a gigantic lute, a wooden musical instrument of enormous proportions capable of containing the entire musical performance within, as well as the audience. The music generated inside would naturally cause this colossal soundboard to vibrate, along with the musicians and the audience, who would literally be incorporated within the resonant body.
The ‘instrument’ was built inside the sixteenth century Venetian church of San Lorenzo, with which an important relationship was established in terms of acoustics and staging. In fact, the sound emitted from the sounding board would reflect off the walls of the church itself.


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