after Christa Wolf, music Michael Jarrell

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The 2015 archive

Fanny Ardant

Genève / Created in 2015

Cassandre © Christophe Raynaud de Lage


“With this story I go to my death.” Cassandra of Troy knows what's coming. Defeated by fate, she has but an hour left to live. She knows that Apollo's curse will prevent her from being heard. She's learnt that words die, too. No matter, she will keep talking. But she will not try to convince men of the despair that awaits them anymore. The time for predictions is past. So she tells her own story, with absolute freedom, hiding nothing of the pain she suffered as a child, as a lover, as a prisoner, as a woman. She doesn't want to become a heroine. To say no is the only refuge she has left. For a long time Michael Jarrell has tried to adapt this novel by Christa Wolf, which retells Cassandra's myth and challenges the triumphant vision of Homer the Greek. It didn't work as an opera: “There's no reason left to sing,” he thought. The composer instead decided to call on Schönberg's idea to say, act, and sing all at once, and challenges Cassandra's suspended present by multiplying musical temporalities, by adding instrumental and electronic textures one on top of the other. A score Fanny Ardant makes hers while at once surrendering herself and resisting. Because for director Hervé Loichemol, rejecting deception doesn't make Cassandra free, but rather gives her the opportunity to conquer her freedom. A state that, here, can only lead to war.

Michael Jarrell studied visual art before dedicating himself to music, training with Swiss composers Éric Gaudibert, whose work is notable for its electronic influences, and Klaus Huber, for whom music is a form of societal reflection. From 1986 to 1989, he worked at the Cité des Arts, at the Ircam, and at the Villa Médicis. Composer-in-residence for the Orchestre de Lyon (1991-1993) and for the Festival de Lucerne (1996), the 2000 edition of Musica Nova Helsinki is entirely dedicated to his work.
In 2001, after the commission of a piano concerto by the Salzburg Festival, he is made Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters, the final distinction in a career that saw him receive numerous awards.After teaching in Vienna, he is appointed professor of composition at the Geneva University of Music in 2004. Inspired by the post-serialist breakthroughs of the 1950s and by Giacometti and Edgar Varèse, his conception of musical time uses recurrence to play with tone on the organisation of the score. Cassandra, which adds electronic sounds to a traditional orchestra to widen the field of music and of the dramaturgy, is a major work in his repertoire.

The current director of the Comédie de Genève, Hervé Loichemol began his career in Besançon, before joining the TNS in 1972. His encounter with Jean Jourdheuil led him to direct a large number of German-speaking playwrights, such as Lessing, Büchner, Kleist, Brecht, and above all Müller, whose work he directed in Sarajevo when he went there along with Swiss personalities to shine a light on the horrors of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A specialist of the 18th century, his theatre of philosophical action is marked by a deep political reflection.


Text Christa Wolf
Music Michael Jarrell
Direction Hervé Loichemol
Musical direction Jean Deroyer
Scenography and lights Seth Tillett
Costumes Nicole Rauscher

With Fanny Ardant
And the musicians of the Namascae Lemanic Modern Ensemble: Marion Allain, Jean-Philippe Cochenet, Armelle Cordonnier, Jean-Marc Daviet, Pierre Fatus, Lucas Genas, Saya Hashino, Julien Lapeyre, Amandine Lecras, Luca Mariani, Nicolas Nageotte, Patrick Oriol, Jean-Marie Paraire, Madoka Sakitsu, Sylvain Tolck, Nicolas Vandewalle, Alessandro Viotti, Théotime Voisin


Production Comédie de Genève
Coproduction Namascae Lemanic Modern Ensemble, Compagnie FOR
With the support of Pro Helvetia, Fondation suisse pour la culture

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