Date / Place I

06 February 2022 Gare du Nord, Basel

Date / Place II

07 February 2022 Gare du Nord, Basel






Michael Jarrell (*1958) “Kassandra”  melodrame for female speaker, instrumental ensemble and electronics (1994) – 54’


Verena Buss
Jürg Henneberger
Christoph Bösch
flute, alto flute
Antje Thierbach
oboe, English horn
Toshiko Sakakibara
Richard Haynes
bass clarinet
Lucas Rößner
bassoon, contraforte
Aurélien Tschopp
Simon Kissling
Nenad Marković
Michael Büttler
Daniel Stalder
João Pacheco
Ludovic Van Hellemont
piano, celesta
Samuel Wettstein
Friedemann Treiber
David Sontòn Caflisch
Petra Ackermann
Stéphanie Meyer
Aleksander Gabryś
double bass
Fabrizio Di Salvo

Program description

Composer Michael Jarrell’s music-theatrical work “Cassandre” is a melodrama for actress, ensemble and electronics based on the story “Cassandra” by Christa Wolf, a contemporary version of the Greek drama. The Swiss-French actress Marthe Keller inspired Jarrell to write this composition, which was premiered in French at the Théâtre du Châtelet Paris in 1994, directed by Peter Konwitschny. The German version was written for Anne Bennent and premiered at the Lucerne Festival in 1996, directed by Christoph Marthaler.


In Michael Jarrell’s oeuvre, “Cassandre” represents the culmination and synthesis of a first and extremely fruitful creative period, even though the choice of the work’s text was “dictated” to him by Christa Wolf, both musically and expressively. The figure of the Trojan priestess, reinterpreted by the German author, is torn between images of the past and impending catastrophe. Neither Wolf nor Jarrell himself want to draw us into the middle of the Trojan War: Cassandra speaks only of her memory about the events. At the beginning of the play, the worst has already happened. The pinnacle of lament – and revolt – lies not so much in a utopia of change or an attempt at a breakthrough, but rather in a kind of twilight. In a tiny space that borders on nothingness, as well as in the lightning-like certainty that precedes death, time condenses, closes, and loops back: in the intensity of feeling, the past becomes the present. The various moments of the drama do not present themselves in a causal chain that follows a realistic principle, but follow one another without transition, draw on one another and sound into one another, in a stream of consciousness that reveals the essential. The inner monologue is an attempt of clarification and an admission of failure at the same time, a combination of clear insight and melancholy. The whole work is, according to the composer, a “long coda”.

Philippe Albéra