The Great Macabre

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June 2024 Next


György Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre will be staged in Czech premiere. The one and only opera written by the Hungarian-Austrian composer, a major representative of the 20th-century avant-garde, is a truly remarkable work, one that in many a respect surpasses that which is commonly expected from a piece of this genre. Loosely based on the Belgian dramatist Michel de Ghelderode’s play La balade du grand macabre, Ligeti provocatively branded it “anti-anti-opera”. Le Grand Macabre presents an extremely bizarre apocalyptic vision of a world gone mad, teeming with characters of such telling names as Nekrotzar, Piet The Pot, Clitoria, Spermando … Ligeti’s spectacular operatic fresco, set in a fictitious city bearing an equally telling name, Breughelland, not only shocks by featuring harsh, spine-chilling and perverse images, it is also striking in terms of the score, with the musical idiom encompassing conventional instruments, but also giving scope to a large variety of entirely unprecedented sounds, produced by car-horns, electric doorbells, a sledgehammer, an alarm clock, paper bags, a tray full of crockery, a saucepan, a pistol and other items.


Le Grand Macabre received its world premiere in Stockholm in 1978. Later on, Ligeti made considerable revisions to the opera for a production at the Salzburger Festspiele in 1997.

Program and cast

Conductor: Jiří Rožeň

Piet the Pot: Thor Inge Falch

Amanda: Magdaléna Hebousse

Nekrotzar: Marcus Jupither

Astradamors: Ivo Hrachovec

Mescalina: Victoria Khoroshunova

Venus: Eir Inderhaug

Chief of Gepopo: Eir Inderhaug

Princ Go-Go: David DQ Lee

The White Minister: Benjamín Hájek

The Black Minister: Michal Marhold

Ruffiack: Martin Kreuz; Dalibor Pavelka

Schobiack: Pavel Borek; Andrey Styrkul

Schabernack: Tomáš Bartůněk; Vít Palacký


State Opera Chorus
State Opera Orchestra
National Theatre Opera Ballet
The boys choir Pueri gaudentes


Creative team

Stage director, Sets and Costumes - Nigel Lowery

Light design - Lothar Baumgarten

Video design - Lukáš Panoch

Chorus master - Adolf Melichar

Dramaturgy - Ondřej Hučín


Approximate running time

1 hour 40 minutes, no intermission


In English, surtitles in Czech, English

Prague State Opera

The State Opera today


The State Opera (formerly the State Opera Prague, between 1948 and 1992 the Smetana Theatre, and originally the New German Theatre) has been a part of the National Theatre since 2012. The Opera and Ballet ensembles give repertory performances at the State Opera.




The Prague State Opera resides in the building which on January 5, 1888 was opened as a Prague German stage with the performance of Wagner’s opera, The Mastersingers of Nürnberg. In the 19th century, Prague Germans performed in the Estate’s Theater in alternation with a Czech company. Desire for their own theater led to negotiations in 1883 for the construction of a new theater building for the German Theater Association. Over the next three years, a blueprint was drawn up and handed over to the Vienna atelier of Fellner and Hellmer. Also sharing in the design was the architect of the Vienna Municipal Theater, Karl Hasenauer, while Prague architect Alfons Wertmüller took part in the construction. Financing came from private collections. With its spacious auditorium and neo-Rococo decoration, this theater building is among the most beautiful in Europe.




By car

On Wilsonova street, from the left lane close to the State Opera building take the slip road to the Slovan above-ground garage. The parking fee is 40 CZK/h.


By tram


By daytime tram No. 11 to the stop “Muzeum”, through the underpass beneath Legerova street in the direction of the NationalMuseum, at the crossroads turn right along the NewBuilding of the NationalMuseum.


By daytime trams Nos. 3, 9, 14 and 24 or night trams Nos. 51, 52, 54, 55, 56 and 58 to the stop “Václavské náměstí”, then by foot uphill on the left side of the Wenceslas Square to the traffic lights across Wilsonova and Vinohradská streets. Then turn left along the NewBuilding of the NationalMuseum.


By metro

To the “Muzeum” station, lines A and C (green and red), and then by foot along the NewBuilding of the NationalMuseum.

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