Noisy, somnambulistic and rather weird, György Ligeti's (1923-2006) Endspiel, premiered at the Royal Opera Stockholm in 1978, wraps itself in a motley cloak under which mischief reigns. The play La Balade du Grand Macabre by the Belgian Michel de Ghelderode, a kind of absurd mystery play from 1934, provided the composer and his librettist Michael Meschke with the tragicomic material for their music theater.
As a commentary on the dogmas of the musical avant-garde of the time, the Hungarian Ligeti, who was born in Romania 100 years ago and had been living in exile since 1956, called his work an "anti-anti-opera" with a wink - basically a return to opera in the traditional sense, albeit "dangerous, exaggerated, completely crazy and dirty. Inspired by the principle of pop art, all kinds of musical borrowings, alienated quotations and the crudely comic text overlap to form an overwrought mix of styles: everyday objects resound, breakneck coloratura cascades swirl, Requiem splinters emerge, sounds of the sky float. The music is always the driving force behind the bizarre characters in this world theater, which also features what is probably the most glorious drunkenness in the history of opera.