Corigliano's Ghosts

Corigliano's Ghosts

American composer John Corigliano’s opera The Ghosts of Versailles will be staged in a new production of a new reduced version at Wexford Opera in October this year.

The Ghosts of Versailles by John Corigliano at Wexford Opera (Oct 21, 24, 27 & 30) melds together the worlds of Marie Antoinette, the French Revolution and the theatrical world of Beaumarchais’ Figaro, in an award-winning opera by the Oscar and Grammy winning composer. The Ghosts of Versailles will also feature 2 Irish singers. Baritone, Owen Gilhooly, who was part of the 2008 Wexford Festival Production of The Mines of Sulphur which recently won the Irish Times Theatre Award for ‘Best Opera Production’, and Mezzo-Soprano, Paula Murrihy, who last appeared with Wexford Festival Opera in 2006, in another Wexford award-winning production, Transformations. The Ghosts of Versailles is a co-production with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the first of, what is hoped to be, an ongoing artistic relationship with the acclaimed American Opera company.

Commenting on this reduced version, Corigliano explains that he and his collaborator, librettist William Hoffman ‘always felt that the opera would benefit from being seen through a closer lens.’ To Corigliano, this reduced orchestration focuses the audience on the true nature of the work: ‘that is, while 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.’ The new version honours this bold vision: rather than reject the past to forge a new future Corigliano and Hoffman choose to celebrate change by embracing the past to move into the future. Corigliano expects the leaner version of Ghosts will communicate this message more clearly: ‘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.’

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Click here to listen to 3 clips of the original version of The Ghosts of Versailles.

Artistic Team
Conductor - Michael Christie
Director - James Robinson
Set Designer - Allen Moyer
Costume Designer - James Schuette
Video Design - Wendall Harrington
Choreographer - Sean Curran

Marie Antoinette (s) - Maria Kanyova
Beaumarchais (bar) - George von Bergin
Figaro (bar) - Christopher Feigum
Cherubino (s) - Paula Murrihy
Rosina (s) - Kishani Jayasinghe
Patrick Honoré Bégearss (t) - Mark T Panuccio
British Ambassador(bar) - Owen Gilhooly

Performance Dates: Oct 21, 24, 27 & 30 – 8pm

Tickets can be purchased online at or through Wexford Opera House box-office, telephone: Lo-call 1850-4-OPERA or (053) 912 2144. Tickets from £25.

John Corigliano

The Ghosts of Versailles reduced orchestration
2 Hours, 30 Minutes
3 Sopranos, 2 Mezzo Sopranos, 3 Tenors, 2 Baritones
2(pic).2(ca).2(bcl:ebcl).2(cbn)/2220/timp.2[=3]perc/hp,pf(cel).syn/str (min 66443)

Grand opera buffa in two acts to a libretto by William B. Hoffman based on La mère coupable (1792) by Beaumarchais. First performed New York, Metropolitan Opera House, 19 December 1991. Performed in a newly revised version by the composer and produced in co-operation with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Sung in English.

John Corigliano (b. 1938)

Corigliano’s oeuvre is nothing if not eclectic, marrying classical and popular, contemporary issues and age-old musical forms. Who better, then, to be awarded the first commission in a quarter century from New York’s Metropolitan Opera? The Ghosts of Versailles was commissioned in 1980, completed in 1987 and enthusiastically received at its premiere at the Met four years later, with a cast including Renée Fleming, Teresa Stratas, Gino Quilico and Marilyn Horne.

Corigliano’s only opera to date, The Ghosts of Versailles spans three worlds: the historical milieu of the French Revolution, the realm of the spirits haunting Versailles, and the theatrical world of the third play in Beaumarchais’s ‘Figaro’ trilogy, from which the opera takes its cast. Beaumarchais himself stars as one of the ghosts who, having fallen in love with Marie Antoinette, attempts to divert the course of history and prevent her execution by writing a new play, La Mère coupable – only to be foiled by Figaro, a jaded revolutionary. Through music that parodies operatic conventions, combining pastiche of historical idioms (particularly Mozart and Rossini) with serial techniques and timbral counterpoint, The Ghosts of Versailles presents a rich narrative: not only a love story but also a meditation on revolution, love, and the costs of personal and social change.

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