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Anne Shelley
Music Media Monthly, April 2013

Every role in this show is challenging theatrically and vocally, and every singer cast here makes you think they deal with this amount of discordance every day. As our drunken friend Piet the Pot, Chris Merritt’s wide vocal range is as essential as his inebriated antics, and Barbara Hannigan—a utility player who handles the roles of both Venus and Gepopo—is easy on the eyes as well as the ears, pinging incomprehensively high notes with enviable mastery. I think this just might be the only commercially-available video production of Le Grand Macabre, and we’re fortunate that this crew’s “go big or go home” approach was captured on film. © 2013 Music Media Monthly Read complete review

Stephen Smoliar, January 2013

LIGETI, G.: Grand Macabre (Le) (Liceu, 2011) (NTSC) 101643
LIGETI, G.: Grand Macabre (Le) (Liceu, 2011) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) 108058

The production was the shared effort of the Barcelona opera company with the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, the Opera di Roma, and the English National Opera of London.

Musically one could not hope for a better approach to the score Ligeti conceived to match the absurdity of this opera’s plot. The real value of the video, however, comes from the impact of the staging. This was the product of the Catalan theatrical group La Fura dels Baus…and its Artistic Director Àlex Ollé. La Fura…usually take a highly technology-rich approach to staging. As a result the imagery of the staging of this production of La Grand Macabre is as outrageously imaginative as both the plot and the music. © 2013 Read complete review

Robert Tomas
The WholeNote, November 2012

…a combination of [Ligeti’s] difficult, relentless and entrancing music, with fascinating and at times shocking staging by La Fura dels Baus, results in such an explosive combination. The stage, dominated by a female shape…is transformed by tricks of light and projections into a phantasmagoria of nightmarish images, truly a “Grand Macabre.”

The striking visuals will transfix even the most reluctant modern opera followers, but this is not to say that the singing is not amazing. Werner Van Mechelen inhabits the role of Nekrotzar, the prophet of doom, with ease and class, while Barbara Hannigan as Gepopo and Brian Asawa as Prince Go-Go shine in their respective roles.

This is certainly not a production that leaves the listener toe-tapping or humming a familiar aria. Instead, one will be forced to think, reflect and then put the DVD back on. Such is the power of Ligeti’s music and futuristic imagery. © 2012 The WholeNote Read complete review, October 2012

This recording…was made at a performance at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona in November 2011, as staged by La Fura dels Baus; it was a true multinational endeavor, also involving Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Opera di Roma and English National Opera…Death is the central character, personified as Nekrotzar…bass-baritone Werner Van Mechelen handles the role with considerable skill. Ligeti plays throughout with expectations…There is an outstanding, scene-stealing performance in Act II by Barbara Hannigan as Gepopo…who sings entirely in code phrases and incomprehensible babble while tossing herself around the stage…As for the instrumentation, its most notable component is percussion, including numerous standard instruments plus a wind machine, paper bag, signal and steamboat whistles, a large alarm clock, a metronome, two whips, a large sledgehammer and many more items. Clearly…Le Grand Macabre is a spectacle…The Teatre del Liceu performance is a superb one, with staging that emphasizes the surreal elements of the story and absolutely marvelous lighting effects that accentuate them further…certainly this recording will be a must-have for people who do have a taste for post-modern and in many ways post-musical stage productions. © 2012 Read complete review

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