Intolleranza 1960, an ‘azione scenica in two parts based on an idea by Angelo Maria Ripellino, music by Luigi Nono’, was first performed on 13 April 1961 during the 24th International Contemporary Music Festival at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice. In the aftermath of the première, critics perceived a gap in the work's realization between intentions and results, a gap perceived mainly in political terms. An examination of the dramaturgical and compositional genesis of the work through the sketches suggests a gap of a very different nature. The work as originally announced was to have revolutionary potential, and the innovations were intended by Nono to affect the musical language, the staging, and the dramatic content. But many of these ideas and innovations remained unrealized in the final production, while the ambitious dramaturgical logic underpinning the compositional process – involving ‘character rows’ for each of the principal roles – was never fully implemented. Nono's first theatrical work proves to be the result of a singular compromise between intention and necessity, something quite different from the original project. Nevertheless, the compositional solutions forced on Nono, partly through pressures of time, were to prove decisive in later works, liberating the now ‘autonomous’ interval from parametric predetermination and classic serial grids. Moreover, the work, which had been envisaged as an ideal convergence of dramaturgical and technical principles, became an emblem not only of the new music theatre but of avant-garde theatre in general.