Wüstenbuch – Composition Commission issued to Beat Furrer

Theater Basel, Switzerland

The desert is a place for strangers. It is an image of ungraspable emptiness, a metaphor for death and nothingness, onto which we repeatedly project our fears of losing our memories. Numerous authors have written about the phenomenon of the desert. Ingeborg Bachmann’s "Wüstenbuch-Fragmente", taken from her "Todesarten-Projekt", is a striking example. Beat Furrer and Händl Klaus have incorporated passages of them into the textual outline of their new music theatre piece "Wüstenbuch" (Desert Book). Further building blocks of the libretto are provided by texts by Händl Klaus as well as poems by Angel Valente, Nazim Hikmet together with ancient Egyptian papyrus 3024, in which an unknown author wrote of his longing for death. The Papyrus is quoted in the new translation by Jan Assmann, who caused a sensation with his book "Tod und Jenseits im Alten Ägypten" (Death and Beyond in Ancient Egypt), collecting numerous death texts and thereby making a decisive contribution to our understanding of the Ancient Egyptians’ relationship with death, and the congruence of death ritual with the celebration of life. The work will be performed for the first time under the direction of Christoph Marthaler in March 2010 at E-Halle in Basel. 

Sunday, March 14th 2010
E-Halle, Basel

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