‘Le Grand Macabre’ at the crossroads of two exiles


  • Vita Gruodyté Klaipeda University


The meeting between Hungarian composer Györgi Ligeti and Lithuanian scenographer Aliute Mecys was a unique encounter between two artists, each marked by childhood traumas and identity problems. These sublimated traumas are ref lected in Le Grand Macabre, an opera based on a text by Michel de Ghelderode that was proposed to Ligeti by Aliute Mecys. This “anti-anti-opera”, in the words of Ligeti, is a eulogy for two passionate beings, devoted mainly to carnal love. Could it be considered as an autobiographical score, as the essence of their shared intimate life that lasted longer than the ten years during which the opera was composed? Built to oppose two forms of aesthetics the noble opera and the puppet show it embodies both the tragicomic of the Last Judgment, an end of the world that does not really take place, and absolute Love, the triumph of Eros. Ligeti abandons here the sonoristic approach to musical material that was so important in his most innovative works and adopts the style of Aliute Mecys (who was a kind of modern Hieronymus Bosch) by letting his musical language burst into a multitude of references and subversions. This paper will try to answer the question of how a joint work may ref lect the fusion and sublimation of personal trauma within a passionate relationship.