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Mexican Premiere of György Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre

Oct. 01, 2019

Mexican Premiere of György Ligeti’s <em>Le Grand Macabre</em>

On October 11, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México presents the Mexican premiere of György Ligeti’s acclaimed “anti anti-opera”, Le Grand Macabre. A second performance takes place on October 13 in the Palacio de Bellas Artes. This multimedia concert production is led by conductor Ludwig Carrasco, directing the Orquesta Juvenil Eduardo Mata (OJUEM). Participating ensembles include the Madrigalistas de Bellas Artes and the Coro Universitario Estudiantil Staccato. Carlos Aransay directs the choirs, and Rodrigo Cadet serves as assistant director, with multimedia by the video artist, Óscar Enríquez. The work is based on the play La Balade du Grand Macabre by Michel de Ghelderode. Ligeti noted:

“The opera takes place in the completely degenerate but recklessly flourishing dukedom of Breugelland. […] The opera’s main character is Nekrozar, the Grand Macabre, a sinister, demagogic and dubious figure with an unshakable sense of mission. He maintains that he is the figure of Death who has come to Breugelland in order to wipe out the entire population and thereby also the whole of mankind with the aid of a comet that very day at midnight. Although he enters the ducal palace with great pomp to proclaim his apocalyptic threats with supreme confidence, he becomes caught up in the maelstrom of the all too worldly goings-on of the people of Breugelland and, with the aid of the court astrologer and his drinking partner Piet vom Fass, becomes so inebriated […] that his loftily declaimed proclamation on the imminent end of the world falls totally flat. The intoxicated people of Breugelland believe themselves to have already arrived in heaven, but it gradually becomes clear that life in heaven is identical to that on earth. Everyone is still alive after all and only Nekrozar, the Grand Macabre, dies from grief that he has failed in his crusade. If he were Death himself, then Death is now dead, eternal life has begun and earth is at one with heaven: the Last Judgement has taken place. Should he however merely have been a conceited charlatan and a dark and false messiah and his mission merely empty words, life will continue as normal – one day everyone will die, but not today, not immediately.”

(Le Grand Macabre/György Ligeti/The Philharmonia Orchestra/London Voices/Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor)

To learn more about György Ligeti, visit:

György Ligeti
Le Grand Macabre (1975-77, rev. 1996)
opera in four scenes
libretto by Michael Meschke and György Ligeti, after the Michel de Ghelderode play La Balade du Grand Macabre
for coloratura soprano, high soprano, soprano, mezzo-soprano, boy soprano, soprano or countertenor, dramatic mezzo-soprano, high tenor buffo, tenor, 4 baritones, Verdi baritone, bass, and 2 mixed choirs
3(2,3.pic)3(2.ob. d’am., cl, asax, 3.bcl)3(3.cbsn-4.4.btpt.3.0.cbtb-timp.3perc-3chrom. harmonicas(played by brass and percussion members)cel(cemb).konzertflügel(elec. pno.)elec. org.mnd.hp-str