Le Grand Macabre


Grotesque, bizarre and extravagant are adjectives frequently applied to contemporary creation and that is not surprising when we realize that the presence of the carnal body, as opposed to the idealized, canonical body, is one of its main subjects. Mikhaïl Bakhtine spoke of the grotesque body as a subversive counterculture’s response to the established codes, the body as bas matériel: gluttony, scatology, obscenity… It is also the abject body defined by the philosopher and thinker Julia Kristeva as being composed of orifices, viscera and fluids. The inside of our bodies, so utterly forgotten by centuries of Cartesian rationality, is now displayed and questioned. The subversion of the grotesque returns. This is the territory explored by Le grand macabre, where paradoxically tragedy and laughter coincide.
La Fura dels Baus and Valentina Carrasco have created a staging based on the great metaphor that is the human body. A large figure presides over the scene and its curves and orifices offer a new setting for the performance.
Le grand macabre debuted on March 26th, 2009 at the Teatre de l’Opera in Brussels.

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Musical direction
Leo Hussain

Alex Ollé (La Fura dels Baus) & Valentina Carrasco

Stage direction
Alex Ollé en colaboración con Valentina Carrasco

Set design
Alfons Flores

Lluc Castells

Franc Aleu

Peter van Praet

Choir direction

Piers Maxim

Direction assistant
Tine Buyse

Piet the Pot: Chris Merritt
Amando: Frances Bourne
Amanda: Ilse Eerens
Nekrotzar: Werner Van Mechelen
Astradamors: Frode Olsen
Mescalina: Ning Liang
Venus: Barbara Hannigan
Prince Go-Go: Brian Asawa
White Minister: Eberhard Francesco Lorenz
Black Minister: Martin Winkler
Gepopo, Chief of the Secret Police: Barbara Hannigan

Co-production: Théâtre de la Monnaie, Teatro della Opera di Roma, English National Opera and Gran Teatre del Liceu.


A singular staging for a singular opera. With music by Ligeti and libretto by Ghelderode, Le grand macabre has the carnal body as the thread that runs through this extraordinary tragicomedy, where laughter is the only magical spell to conjure up the fear of death.

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