“Alzheim” is a new chamber opera about Alzheimer’s disease.
In the heart of European society, which benefits from a strong welfare system and high living standards, there exists a disease affecting everyday life for many of its citizens. As a society, we must to come to terms with how we treat our fellow citizens suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
On December 1st, 2017, this chamber opera consisting of actors, singers and musicians had its world premiere in Bern.
After a concept and libretto by Jürgen Berger, Xavier Dayer composed the music in the style of a hidden soundscape, which shows the decline of consciousness into complete silence.
The main subject of the team’s research was the hospital for dementia in Baan Kamlangchay, Thailand, where many Swiss nationals undergo treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Jürgen Berger visited this hospital himself, did interviews with patients and their families, and also observed daily routines and conversations within the hospital. This research formed the basis for his libretto, which, inspired as it was directly from real-life, became a sort of “reenactment” of the everyday lives of people in the treatment center. The characters of the opera represent many of the original patients and their relatives. Divided into fifty scenes, the audience encounters a documentary of the course of a steadily intensifying illness and the reactions of those who encounter it.
Xavier Zuber, Dramaturg