Venue Details

285 Star Starred
War Memorial Opera House
301 Van Ness Ave. San Francisco, CA 94102
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Quotes & Highlights

“Mr. Ligeti’s music offers an arresting mix of grating harmonies, raspy singing and modernistic bedlam, periodically interrupted by disarming stretches of ethereal orchestral ruminations and wistfully alluring lyricism. … I can’t wait.” —New York Times


The Buzz: Consider this opera an adventure. As part of Animating Opera series, Seminal Works of Modern Times, Le Grand Macabre is a unique chance to hear a symphony of car horns – and to marvel over the velvety voice of Willard White (most recently praised for his commanding portrayal of Saint Francis), who was called “first-rate” for his Nekrotzar in Salzburg.

The Spark: In 1974 Ligeti set out to write an “anti-opera” but found himself reinventing operatic traditions in his depiction of a land on the verge of an apocalypse.

The Story: Nekrotzar ascends from the graveyard in the form of the Grim Reaper and along with the drunkard and the astrologer proceeds to the court of Prince Go-Go. A series of disjointed scenes raises the question of whether they have witnessed the apocalypse or whether it has all been a great farce.

The Stage: Hailing from Copenhagen, this vibrantly colorful staging, set in a contemporary city by designer Steffen Aarfing, artfully and provocatively shows that sometimes the only way to grapple with the fear of death is by using the absurd.

The Score: Encompassing a collage of sonorities ranging from an ensemble of urban sounds to snippets of manipulated Beethoven, Rossini and Verdi, Ligeti takes listening to the next level.


Piet The Pot Graham Clark

Amando Sara Fulgoni

Amanda Anne-Sophie Duprels

Nekrotzar Willard White

Astradamors Clive Bayley*

Mescalina Susanne Resmark*

Venus/Gepopo Caroline Stein*

Prince Go-Go Gerald Thompson*

White Politician John Duykers

Black Politician Joshua Bloom


Conductor Michael Boder

Director Kasper Holten*

Production Designer Steffen Aarfing*

Lighting Designer Jesper Kongshaug*

Chorus Director Ian Robertson

Sound Designer Roger Gans

  • San Francisco Opera debut

Cast, programs and schedules are subject to change

Approximate Running Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Sung in English with English Supertitles

Production by Royal Danish Opera

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