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John Corigliano

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Phantasmagoria (on Themes from “The Ghosts of Versailles”) (1993)
G Schirmer Inc
Works for 2-6 Players
Sub Category
Piano + 1 Instrument
Year Composed
16 Minutes
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Score and Part(s) Score and Part(s)

Programme Note
John Corigliano Phantasmagoria (on Themes from “The Ghosts of Versailles”) (1993)
Composer note: The opera takes place on three different planes of reality: (1) the world of eternity, inhabited by the ghosts of Versailles, including the playwright Beaumarchais and Marie Antoinette (2) the world of the stage, inhabited by the 18th century characters of Beaumarchais (Figaro, Susanna, the Count and Countess, etc.) and (3) theworld of historic reality, primarily the reality of the French Revolution itself, populated by the characters of (1) and (2). Thus THE GHOST OF VERSAILLES represents a journey from the most fantastic to the most realistic. The architecture of the three-hour opera is mirrored in microcosm in PHANTASMAGORIA, which begins with spectral ghost music and a melodic fragment from Marie Antoinette’s first aria that reappears throughout the work. Sliding harmonics and cluster-chords create a liquid tableau behind this melody. The world of the stage is highly stylized; as the characters would suggest, it is set in the world of 18th century opera buffa. This section of PHANTASMAGORIA comprises parts of Figaro’s Act I aria and the many chase scenes that occur throughout the opera. Subliminal quotes from Mozart and Rossini (and even one from Wagner) are interspersed with rhythmically eccentric passages of great virtuosity for both cellist and pianist. Throughout the work, the ghost music floats in and out, binding the other sections together. After the buffa reaches a climax (with of all things, the Tristan chord), we arrive at a setting of the septet (Quintet and Miserere) from Act II. This highly lyrical ensemble is set in the Conciergerie prison, and unites the Almaviva family (2) with Marie Antoinette (1) in the very real French Revolution (3). The end of the septet flows into the ghost music, and Marie Antoinette’s melodic motto leads to a conclusion of of liquid repose. --John Corigliano

  • Ensemble
    Fischer Duo
    Norman Fischer, Jeanne Kierman
    Gasparo Records:
  • Soloist(s)
    Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax
    Sony Classical:
Ondine’s exciting new Corigliano collection presents the world-premiere orchestral recording of PHANTASMAGORIA, a fantasy on his opera THE GHOST OF VERSAILLES. Corigliano fashions a compelling narrative incorporating the opera’s main thematic elements and juxtaposing its wildly diverse musical styles, from bracing otherworldly neoclassical — albeit viewed through a refracted lens....
Victor Carr Jr., CLASSICSTODAY.COM,01/01/0001
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