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Ligeti's 'Le Grand Macabre'

Le Grand Macabre

by Jessica WELDHEN

Charming, thought-provoking, yet darkly humorous, ‘Le Grand Macabre’ is the “anti-opera”. György Ligeti’s only opera has also been described as “beyond-modern” and “absurdist”, but for a story about an apocalypse it is rich in wit and musical parody. Confused? Don’t worry about trying to make sense of it all, just go with the flow!

‘Le Grand Macabre’ tells the story of Nekrotzar, the self-proclaimed Death, who ascends from the graveyard and arrives in Breughelland, where he is hoping to be taken seriously by the citizens. He plans to get their attention by destroying the world, but ironically he ends up being the only person to die, with the other characters left to work out in the final scene whether or not they are dead too. Bizarrely, ‘Le Grand Macabre’ invites the audience to laugh at Death, and delivers a number of discontinuous ideas about life, death and the value of living without fear. It is a bold, surreal interpretation of a modern world, with a comic slant that makes for an unexpectedly compelling performance.

Beginning with a symphony of car horns and wild jazz, and with sections of hysterical orchestration and vocal expression later on, expect an unconventional listening experience and prepare to be entertained by an opera like no other!

(18th – 23rd June 2009, Teatro dell’Opera, Piazza Beniamino Gigli, 1, 00184 Rome, Italy)

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