Photo: Sandra Then


Composition Commission issued to Michael Wertmüller

Theater Basel, Basel, Switzerland


Commissioned by Theater Baseland and supported by the EvS Music Foundation composer Michael Wertmüller and dramatist Dea Loher will be writing an opera for soloists, choir, symphony orchestra and Ensemble Steamboat Switzerland. The opera tells of a meeting between six “enfants terribles”with literary ambitions in the “Year without Summer” in Geneva. For the tried and tested author duo this is the first opera for the large stage. A number of Wertmüller’s approaches to theatrical forms already culminated in 2015 in the chamber opera Weine nicht, singe for which librettist Dea Loher proved the ideal artistic partner.

In 1816, the “Year without a Summer”, ice-cold temperatures prevailed as well as darkness in summer due to a previous volcanic eruption in Indonesia. The weather seemed to reflect the political instability of the time: the rules of nature seemed to have been suspended just as the rules of human coexistence. The opera focalizes eight days that wrote (literary) history: the historic meeting of a group revolving around Percy Shelley and his subsequent wife Mary along with Lord Byron and his personal physician John Polidori who are all marooned in a holiday villa on Lake Geneva telling each other stories to pass the time and writing these down. The literary creations from the Geneva villa – for instance Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – show that people can be externally controlled and subjected to external influences and yet still reflect the longing for freedom and individuality that is just as important today as it was back then. The story of the eight eventful days on Lake Geneva is to be treated for the first time for the opera stage by Michael Wertmüller and Dea Loher.


February 2019
Theater Basel


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