Letters from the Night

freely adapted from texts by Nelly Sachs

by and with Chiara Guidi
and with a “chorus” of citizens

original live music by Natàn Santiago Lazala

sound Andrea Scardovi
translation Anna Ruchat

a Societas production in collaboration with Liberty

photo Nicolò Gialain

One of the most secluded and powerful poetic voices of the twentieth century, Nelly Sachs arrives like a tenacious breath of wind, that resists time. Within her poetry, and within the dust she often evokes, we catch a glimpse of the painful journey made by entire peoples, to which poetry gives a voice, with music springing out of her verses.

The writings of Nelly Sachs, a Nobel prize winner in 1966, are rediscovered here by Chiara Guidi, in a collaboration with Elena Di Gioia, as is the correspondence she cultivated with another great poet, Paul Celan. With the latter, she shared the wounds of her century and the condition of an exile from history; as she wrote to him: “We both live in the invisible fatherland”.

In theatre, the solitude of the words written in these letters is transformed into a poetic chorus that evokes, through the sounding and concordant body of voices, the ‘creatures of mist’ for which this artist searched.


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.