||G Schirmer Inc
|Opera and Music Theatre
||2 Hours, 50 Minutes
|Cast: principals = 4S, Mz, A, 4T, 2Bar, 2B, associates = 2Mz, Bar(speaking role), B, ensemble = 4S, 2Mz, 2T, 2Bar, B
alt.: 2(2pic).2(ca).2(Ebcl,bcl).2(cbn)/2220/timp(perc).3perc/hp,pf(cel).synth/str (188.8.131.52.3 players)
||Hire Explain this...
Customers for the world except the UK, Australia, and New Zealand
Customers within the UK, Australia, and New Zealand
William M. Hoffman suggested by Beaumarchais' "La Mère coupable."About the orchestra and cast:
The original production included ensembles onstage:
- players = hpd, man, gtr, hp, vn, va, 3vc, 2db
- rheita band (Act I Scene 5) = ob, 2perc
- ball orchestra (Act II, scene 5) = fl, vn, va, vc
- marchers = 2hn, [opt 2tpt, perc]
In the full orchestra version, the parts for these players can be distributed and covered by players in the pit or by the synthesizer. These are incorporated into the pit orchestra parts in the reduced orchestra version.
Major productions to date, including the premiere, cast more singers than are actually required by the list of major and supporting roles. The opera requires only a minimum of twenty-eight performers to fulfill its casting requirements.Cast:Principals
: 14soloists playing one role only
FLORESTINE - High Lyric or Coloratura Soprano
MARIE ANTOINETTE - Lyric or Lirico-spinto Soprano
ROSINA - Lyric Soprano
SUSANNA - Mezzo-soprano (or Mezzo-contralto)
ALMAVIVA - Lyric Tenor
LÉON - Lyric Tenor
PATRICK HONORÉ BÉGEARSS - Dramatic Tenor
BEAUMARCHAIS - High Lyric Baritone
FIGARO - Lyric Baritone
LOUIS XVI - Bass
GHOST QUARTET - Soprano, Alto, Tenor, BassAssociate Principals
: 4soloists playing one main role among other supporting roles
CHERUBINO - High Lyric Mezzo-soprano also plays
Figaro Pursuer 5/Turkish Embassy Pursuer 6/Revolutionary Woman 5
SAMIRA - Mezzo-soprano also plays
Figaro Pursuer 6/Revolutionary Woman 6
WILHELM - Baritone and spoken part also plays
Other Man (Fig. Pursuer 9)/ (T.E. Pursuer 10)/Juror 2/Finale Pursuer 10
SULEYMAN PASHA - Basso Profundo also plays
Muscovite 3/Juror 4/Prisoner 1/Finale Pursuer 12Ensemble
: 10soloists playing multiple supporting roles
2 Baritone play
Pursuers of Figaro, Turkish duelists, page, dancing and harem girls,
"rheita" players, acrobats, revolutionary guards, revolutionary women,
courtiers, dancers, prison guards, prisoners, soldiers.
For information about an Opera-in-Concert version of The Ghosts of Versailles
with projections by Jerome Sirlin click here
The following vocal selections from Ghosts of Versailles
are available for purchase:
The ghosts of the court of Louis XVI arrive at the theatre of Versailles. Bored and listless, even the King is uninterested when Beaumarchais arrives and declares his love for the Queen. As Marie Antoinette is too haunted by her execution to reciprocate his love, Beaumarchais announces his intention to change her fate through the plot of his new opera 'A Figaro for Antonia.'
The cast of the opera-within-the-opera is introduced. Following the familiar escapades of the Figaro characters, Almaviva has divorced the Countess after she had a son, Leon, with Cherubino. Leon wants to marry Florestine, Almaviva's illegitimate daughter, but the Count has forbidden the union as retribution for his wife's infidelity and has promised Florestine instead to Bégearss.
Figaro enrages the Count by warning him that his trusted Bégearss is in fact a revolutionary spy. Figaro is fired, but overhears Bégearss and his servant Wilhelm hatching a plot to arrest the Count that evening at the Turkish Embassy when he sells the Queen's necklace to the English Ambassador. Figaro intercepts the plot by infiltrating the party, dressed as a dancing girl. During the outrageous performance of the Turkish singer Samira, Figaro steals the necklace from the Count before the sale can take place, and runs away.
Figaro returns only to defy Beaumarchais's intention that he return the necklace to the queen, as he wants to sell it to help the Almavivas escape. To put the story back on course, Beaumarchais enters the opera and shocks Figaro into submission by allowing him to witness the unfair trial of Marie.
The Count, swayed by his wife's wishes, rescinds his offer to Bégearss of his daughter's hand. Even though Figaro gives him the necklace, Bégearrs is enraged and sends the Spaniards to the prison where Marie Antoinette lingers.
Beaumarchais and Figaro, the only two to escape, arrive at the prison to try to rescue the Almavivas. They are shortly followed by Bérgeass whom Figaro denounces to the revolutionaries, revealing that he has kept the necklace rather than using it to feed the poor. Bégearss is carried off, the Almavivas escape to America and Beaumarchais is left with the keys to the Queen's cell. But the power of his love has made the Queen accept her fate and she refuses to let Beaumarchais alter the course of history. Marie is executed, and the pair is united in Paradise.Ghosts Returns
For many years after the glorious premiere of The Ghosts of Versailles
, I have always felt that my opera was haunted by its spectacular production. People associated it with Prokofiev’s War and Peace
a work that could not exist without the grandest and most expensive mounting. So, like War and Peace
, most opera houses thought The Ghosts of Versailles
almost impossible to produce.
My collaborator, William Hoffman, and I always felt that the opera would benefit from being seen through a closer lens. A more economical production and casting scheme would focus the audience on the true nature of the work: that is, that while The Ghosts
is, in part, an entertaining buffa
, it is also a serious meditation on history and change: specifically, on how change comes about both in politics and in art. Mid-century modernists at their most fundamentalist demanded that we destroy, not merely rethink, the past to forge a new future: a demand of which the guillotine makes a terrible and perfect symbol. But our view of art was that change could come by embracing the past (the opposed worlds of the commoner Beaumarchais and the regal Marie Antoinette) and moving into the future (as did that couple, finally united, in our opera.)
The terrible World Wars that fired the angst and destruction that obsessed the Modernists have been replaced by a more evolutionary view of change. Leningrad has become St. Petersburg again without a shot being fired. Musicians and artists in the 21st century are no longer chained to the severe and limited point of view of the 20th century, despite the antique views of some living musicians and artists of the past.
Perhaps this message will be clearer in this new version. The Met’s introduction of The Ghosts of Versailles
was one of the high points of my artistic life. Still, this smaller, focused production may demonstrate as well as its practicality more of what the work itself has to say. I can hardly wait.
"Like minimalism, neo-romanticism is a facile and not entirely accurate label. It’s often applied, for instance, to John Corigliano, who writes well for orchestra and with an acute sense of the past — his 1991 opera “The Ghosts of Versailles” is one of the best syntheses of the grand opera tradition and contemporary music that anyone’s managed to come up with — but whose sensibility, sound, and sophistication are firmly rooted in the present."
Anne Midgette, The Washington Post, 19/08/2011
...Stratas blooms amid the confrontational social commentary of Mahagonny but is at her best in John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles. Stratas plays one of the ghosts - Marie Antoinette - alongside a great cast, including a wildly comic Marilyn Horne and a young (and fleshy) Renée Fleming. In this sophisticated mélange of operatic manners, Mozartean and modern, centuries of opera come together - along with two generations of singers. It's the grandest of operas. If anyone ever wonders what was great about the Levine era, this video has it all.
David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/12/2010
Corigliano's score, expansive in aria and ensemble and brilliant in orchestral colour, is awash with parody from Mozart and Rossini to the post-Romantics of Europe and America.
Pat O'Kelly, The Independant (Ireland), 23/10/2009
June 18 2009
“The Ghosts of Versailles” commands a special place in this season’s history and the history of the company overall. This opera, brought to the stage Wednesday evening (June 17), rocketed luminously above all this season's shows. In fact, it is an achievement beyond anything the company has produced since 1982, when Jonathan Miller and Calvin Simmons conjured a “Cosi fan tutte” that is not only indelible in the memory, but also an artistic organism to be summoned up and seen and heard as if it had been performed only yesterday, rather than a quarter century ago.
How is such quality achieved? Difficult to say, and if one could figure it out and explain it, all operas would share the greatness of that long-ago “Cosi” and Wednesday’s “The Ghosts of Versailles.”
My supposition is, bringing such a triumph to the stage requires a willingness to take enormous risks – to perform acts of cultural terrorism, as N.Y. Times critic Edward Rothstein said of this opera’s creators. Then, everyone from the general director to the technical staff must share a profound understanding of the necessity of bringing together all the elements of the form in a delicate, difficult-to-achieve equilibrium.
All of this, the light, the sounds, the music, the singing, the rustle of fabric, the glint of swords, pauses, dances, each singer's understanding of her or his place in the show and of his or her character in the universe, the décor and the stage properties, commitment – everything must be come together, and fit together precisely in the operatic puzzle.
…The original production of “The Ghosts of Versailles” at the Metropolitan Opera in 1991 was staggeringly grand in terms of singers, stage personnel, chorus and instrumentalists, as well as technology. The late Colin Graham, for many years artistic director of Opera Theatre, was its Merlin, and from all reports, of those in attendance at the Met or at home with their televisions, the opera packed the force of revelation. The St. Louis production, by necessity, has been scaled down. It doesn’t seem to matter, however. Less, as we have learned over time, often really is more.
…one is mesmerized by the seamlessness of the movement along the surface of the strip. And why is that? Because composer John Corigliano and playwright William T. Hoffman, and, apparently, everyone involved in the St. Louis production embraced risk and achieved the grand synthesis, the vast, complex, thrilling congregation of light and shadow, the sounds and silences the stillnesses and the movement, the music, the set and costumes and props.
All this is pieced together seamlessly, with clear indications of human frailty and frivolity, along with grief and foolishness, with an awareness of misbehavior on a grand scale, with the obligation to both confess and to forgive, and always, always to hope and to pray for some sort of redemption.
To this, Corigliano and Hoffman and the St. Louis company brought an additional element, and that is poetry, which is to say, magic. And therein dwells the success, and the brilliance, of this magnificent show.
Robert W. Duffy, St. Louis Beacon, 18/06/2009
A triumph with the public, a success with the New York press, and a sell-out at the box office...It is heartening to find a new opera greeted with a standing ovation.
Andrew Porter, Times (London)
...the hottest ticket in New York. In an era when contemporary operas have usually been received with polite indifference. . . the response to Ghosts bespoke an audience's gratitude at discovering an opera it
could actually like.
Barrymore Scherer, Gramaphone
The opera was an all-around triumph...the pathos here is exquisite.
David Patrick Stearns, The Independent (London)
Everything works...Corigliano's English prosody enables four thousand people to understand just about everything sung on stage. . . New York audiences adored it.
Martin Mayer, Opera (London)
A hit...effective and, above all, singable. Diverting and spectacular.
Martha Duffy, Time
Opera history was made at the premiere of "The Ghosts of Versailles." Audiences normally skeptical of non-mainstream work gave Corigliano and Hoffman the evening's greatest ovation. That alone proves that a fine, new contemporary opera can be far more exciting than the most spectacular Aida. . . With the help of Hoffman's wise, witty libretto, the composer achieves moments as passionate and moving as any in Puccini, but with a spirituality that makes The Ghosts of Versailles more exalted.
David Patrick Stearns, USA Today
"Ghosts"...is one of the major musical events of the year and possibly the '90's...
Joseph McLellan, The Washington Post
...audiences went nuts...Let's put to bed forever the old canard that opera in English doesn't work because nobody understands the words anyway. . . the Met audiences' enthusiasm for Ghosts was that the words contributed to their understanding and enjoyment. . . the Met has a hit on its hands.
Erik Neher, Opera Monthly
A work of genius that stands a good chance of surviving for decades, perhaps centuries to come.
Robert Croan, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
This was a real event...I am convinced that The Ghosts of Versailles is as intriguing as it is well-crafted. It is likely to find a permanent place in the annals. . .
James Wierzbicki, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
..."The Ghosts of Versailles" has brought forth a towering achievement...Corigliano has the Italians' innate genius for devising music to ennoble the human voice.
Alan Rich, L.A. Weekly
Fascinating as drama, set to an eclectic score of rare beauty and power...Composer John Corigliano and librettist William M. Hoffman have created a work of tremendous complexity that works with the precision of a fine clock.
Byron Belt, Newhouse News Service
The best show on Broadway...Ghosts is about love, loyalty, politics, and most compelling, the power of art. Hoffman's virtuosic libretto gives free rein to Corigliano, whose. . . keen theatrical sense and gift for orchestration are evident everywhere. . . Ghosts is a triumph. It echoes in the mind and settles in the heart.
Katrine Ames, Newsweek
Probably the best libretto since Auden and Kallman provided the words for "The Rake's Progress"...The music is at once an exterior riot of invention and an interior wealth of beauty. . . It was one of two times I have left a premiere humming one of the melodies.
John Ardoin, Dallas Morning News
An old-fashioned hit...Recognizable arias and ensembles, a fascinating plot, humor and phantasmic stagecraft: These are the things opera lovers crave. They're also the ingredients of good theater.
Jeff Bradley, Denver Post
Corigliano and Hoffman received a deafening, rapturous standing ovation. The Ghosts of Versailles achieved on its first night the kind of popular triumph that composers, librettists and opera companies hardly dare even fantasize about these days.
Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times
...a grand show...entertaining and touching, the sold out house at every performance loved every minute of it...
Richard Dyer, The Boston Globe
"Ghosts" celebrates the genre of opera gloriously, tunefully, touchingly, and finally movingly. [It] should easily find a home in the repertory of all major international opera companies. . . Mr. Hoffman's libretto is clever, very rich in characterization. . . Corigliano has created a beautiful work. . . [his] reputation as the finest orchestrator of the day is given new luster here.
Thor Eckert, Jr., The Christian Science Monitor
Cheers and bravos rang through the Metropolitan Opera House... Corigliano and Hoffman have brought off a work of genuine brilliance that could have a long life. Ghosts is a deeply serious opera, a study of the growing love of two complex and sympathetic characters. . . full of imagination, soundly and brilliantly crafted. . . an enormously touching and beautiful work.
Robert Finn, Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Met's biggest hit in many a season. The entire run sold out immediately, and on the nights that Ghosts played, opera fans by the dozen begged tickets. By the end of run. . . the Met had a waiting list. Inside the house, there was the kind of excitement rare at opera premieres. Listeners walked up the aisles at the intermission discussing their favorite arias and ensembles.
Allan Kozinn, The New York Times
Corigliano and Hoffman restore the original fun and excitement
of the operatic forms, partly by stripping away the barnacles of accrued tradition, partly by making a big joke of them, and partly by inventing something new and distinctly American: a huge, melting-pot mélange of styles, events, and ideas. . .
Michael Feingold, The Village Voice
Contrary to much uninformed opinion, writing operas is not a lost art...there is no project in which the Met may take deeper or more legitimate pride than introducing The Ghosts of Versailles.
Matthew Gurewitsch, The Atlantic Monthly
"Ghosts"...is certainly one of the most amazing first operas for both composer and librettist in the repertory...The results are, by turn, funny, sad, tender, lush, lyrical, sophisticated, and phantasmagorical. The Ghosts of Versailles is constantly engrossing on one level or another; dazzlingly allusive yet surprisingly all-of-a-piece; fashioned chock-a-block with grateful, elaborate, multi-tiered arias and ensembles. . . In keeping with the sustained, quasi-hallucinatory fancy of Hoffman's libretto. . . this is a brilliant, beautiful score from a composer who continues to surpass himself.
Tim Page, New York Newsday
...a triumph for Brooklyn-born composer John Corigliano and his librettist William M. Hoffman, for the Metropolitan Opera, and for American music. . . Certainly no opera composed and produced in our time has such potential impact.
Susan Elliott, New York Post
A masterpiece...We've been waiting for that great new American opera seemingly in vain for decades, but all that was finally made worthwhile Thursday night. . . What Corigliano and Hoffman have created is a Gesamtkunstwerk. . . in which all the arts share equally to create music drama on the highest level. Ghosts is vastly entertaining in its fecundity of tunes, dazzling ensembles and riotous humor. It's also, like Die Meistersinger, an opera that makes you think. . . [with] some of the most intoxicating music of our time. . . The "O God of Love" sextet toward the end may just be the most beautiful operatic ensemble written since Der Rosenkavalier.
Bill Zakariasen, Daily News
...one of the most imaginative theatrical experiences of the last decade...In a rare turn of events, a contemporary opera became the Metropolitan Opera's hottest ticket last season. Tonight [on television] you can see why...
John J. O'Connor , The New York Times
...may be the most popular full-length opera written in half a century...a beguiling entertainment. . . It is a welcome addition to the Met and will offer pleasures to wide audiences.
Edward Rothstein, The New York Times
A smash hit...This was one hell of a night...a Corigliano score so fertile, so warmly tuneful, often so atonally wild, and just as often so disarmingly dizzy that you just go along for three hours with wave after wave of wit, farce, tears, laughter, and song. . .
Leighton Kerner, The Village Voice