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on 13 May 2019
at 20:00

Livestream on 13 May 2019


Alan Gilbert and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra perform György Ligeti’s »Le Grand Macabre« in the Grand Hall. Enjoy it via ...

In May 2010, Alan Gilbert collaborated with the director Doug Fitch on György Ligeti’s »Le Grand Macabre« in New York. The press was full of praise and the performance went down in history as a milestone of modern musical theatre.

»An exhilarating success, a brilliant performance of Ligeti’s daunting score and a disarming production.«

The New York Times on the New York production

Ligeti’s music will be a focus at this year’s Hamburg International Music Festival, and as part of that the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra under Alan Gilbert is bringing to Hamburg a version specially adapted for the Elbphilharmonie.

The work is »an opera about the existential crisis in the modern world, about finding meaning in life – with all its nonsense and craziness«, argues Alan Gilbert. Ligeti’s opera is one of the world’s most-performed contemporary operas.


György Ligeti

Synopsis of »Le Grand Macabre«:

The opera is set in an »anytime century« and gets underway as Nekrotzar, the personification of death, climbs out of his grave and prophesies the destruction of humanity as the bell rings midnight. The august protagonists in Ligeti’s »Breughelland« respond to this message in their own unique ways: the drinker »Piet the Pot« becomes a slave to the »Grand Macabre« Nekrotzar; the astronomer Astradamors is cheered up by the prospect of being rid of his obscene wife; the Chief of the »Secret Political Police« fears that the portentous news may cause crowds to gather; and the lovers Amanda and Amando are initially completely unaware of the impending catastrophe. The annihilation of humankind ultimately comes to nothing because Nekrotzar is too drunk.

Ligeti’s composition calls for outstanding musical and acting performances. And Doug Fitch – with a multimedia production and live animated video projections, as well as Catherine Zuber’s flashy science-fiction costumes – takes the audience deep into the fictional world of the composer.

Hamburg International Music Festival

Das Konzert findet im Rahmen des »Internationalen Musikfest Hamburg« statt. Mehr über das Festivalprogramm findet sich hier.


György Ligeti
Le Grand Macabre / opera in two acts

Scenic performance in English


NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester

NDR Chor

Elizabeth Watts Amanda

Marta Fontanals-Simmons Amando

Mark Schowalter Piet vom Fass

Werner Van Mechelen Nekrotzar

Wilbur Pauley Astradamors

Heidi Melton Mescalina

Claire de Sévigné Venus

Anthony Roth Costanzo Fürst Go-Go

John Relyea Schwarzer Minister

Andrew Dickinson Weißer Minister

Audrey Luna Chef der Gepopo

Rob Besserer Atmosphericist

conductor Alan Gilbert

Catherine Zuber cotume design

Clifton Taylor lighting design

Doug Fitch stage director