Thursday, April 16, 2009

Le Grand Macabre

§- Interview by Herman Sabbe, 23 October, 1978

Translated into French and authorized by the composer on 4 February, 1979
First published in Interface, Vol. 8, 1979, pg. 11-34
Translated into English by Josh Ronsen, February-March, 2003

Abstract: The interview traces the background of Ligeti’s opera Le Grand Macabre (1977) through the whole of his career to a fundamental eschatological concern. It retraces its genesis and discloses sources of inspiration in literature and formal analogies to cinematography and the arts. Drawing a parallel with Three Pieces for Two Pianos (1976), it focuses on time neutralization, quotation techniques, the problems of synesthetics and acoustical illusion.

In April 1977, Ligeti finished the score to Le Grand Macabre, an opera in two acts and four scenes based on the play Ballade de Grand Macabre (1934) by Michel de Ghelderode. The work premiered at the Royal Opera of Stockholm, who had commissioned the work. After this, it had its German premiere, in the German language, at the State Opera of Hamburg, in October, 1978, and recently, the Italian premiere, in Italian, in Bologna.