Letters from the night

freely adapted from texts by Nelly Sachs
with Chiara Guidi and the city choir
music performed live by the composer Natàn Santiago Lazala
sound Andrea Scardovi
translation Anna Ruchat
a Societas production in collaboration with Liberty

photo Nicolò Gialain


Letters from the Night was written by Nelly Sachs, one of the most secluded and powerful poetic voices of the twentieth century, a Nobel prize winner in 1966, recently rediscovered by Chiara Guidi in a collaboration with Elena Di Gioia.
Only a voice, this is how she preferred to define herself, both for the faith that led her to “..saturate dust with pain, to give it a soul” and for the credo that guided her: “I believe in an invisible universe in which we mark out our dark accomplishment..”.
Within her words, and within the dust she often evokes, we catch a glimpse of the painful path travelled by entire peoples, to which poetry gives a voice, making music spring forth.
To encounter Nelly Sachs, thanks to the translation by Anna Ruchat, Chiara Guidi will give voice not only to a few letters taken from Letters from the Night but also part of the correspondence she cultivated between 1954 and 1969 with one of the most intense voices of poetry, Paul Celan, with whom she shared the condition of an exile from history and the wounds of her century.
Chiara Guidi will furthermore entrust a few poems to a city choir.
The choir will be developed over three encounters and will be open to anyone who desires an experience of their own voice within an encounter with many voices, different from one’s own.


Nelly Sachs (Berlin, 1891 – Stockholm 1970) was a German writer from a Jewish family. After receiving an order to present herself at a labour camp, in 1940 she succeeded in fleeing to Sweden, where she was to live for the rest of her life. At the end of the war, the first news began to arrive of the death of family members and friends in Nazi concentration camps. These were the years in which
she devoted herself most intensely to poetry, becoming one of the most powerful voices in twentieth-century Germany and beyond. Her first book of poetry was published in 1947. A series of lengthy periods of time spent in psychiatric institutions began in 1950. Nelly Sachs wrote and published increasingly until her death (nine collections of poetry and various texts for the theatre). In the Sixties Nelly Sachs’ fame became international, and in 1966 she received the Nobel prize.


Her numerous collections of poetry include: In the Houses of Death (1947), Flight and Transformation (1959), Beyond Dust (1961), In Search of the Living (1971). Other works include plays (Eli, 1950) and poems (Marks in the Sand, 1962; Enchantment, 1970). Texts published in Italian by Nelly Sachs include: Poesie, translated by Ida Porena, Einaudi 1971; Paul Celan Nelly Sachs Corrispondenza Il Melangolo, 1996 translated by Anna Ruchat; Lettere dalla notte edited by Anna Ruchat, Giuntina 2015.