Carl Orff

Carmina Burana

vocal and choreorgaphic performance in one act

Age 12+

Dates

Libretto, choreography and staging: People’s Artist of the USSR and Belarus, laureate of the State Prize of the Republic of Belarus Valentin Elizariev
Musical director: People’s Artist of the USSR, laureate of the State Prize of the Republic of Belarus Yaroslav Voshchak
Designer: laureate of the State Prize of the Republic of Belarus Ernst Heidebrecht
Chorus master: People’s Artist of Belarus, laureate of the State Prize of the Republic of Belarus Nina Lomanovich
Conductors: People’s Artist of Belarus, laureate of the State Prize of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Anissimov, Honoured Art Worker of the Republic of Belarus Nikolai Koliadko, recipient of the Francysk Skaryna Medal Andrei Galanov

Running time: 60 minutes
Premiere: 18 December 1983

12

"Carmina Burana" – this is how the manuscript, which was written for about 1300 years ago and was founded in the beginning of the XIX century in one of the abbey in foothills of the Bavarian Alps, is called. The name of the manuscript was given by its creator J. A. Schmeller. “Carmina” from the Latin language is translated as “songs”. “Burana” is the name of the area, where manuscripts with poetry of unknown poets, peasants, craftsmen and also vagrants (that is “tramps”, “wanderers”, this is how the wandering poets were called in the Middle Ages). The collection “Carmina Burana” was first published in 1847, Carl Orff received only the fourth edition. There were more than 250 poems on various topics in the collection, and on the first page Carl Orff found the famous painting “Fortune’s Wheel”. The poems in the collection were written in the Medieval Latin language. Orff has left the original text in inviolability by choosing 24 poems about love, spring, drinking and satirical songs and several hymn-like strophes. The composer defined the genre of his work as “Society songs for singers and the choir accompanied by the instruments with a presentation on stage”. The story line of the stage cantata is unsteady and associative. Song and orchestra numbers correspond the contrast pictures of diverse and versatile life: joys of life, happiness, uncontrollable fun, beauty of spring nature, loving passion are glorified in ones, in the others – an uneasy life of monks and vagrants, satiric attitude towards the existence. But thoughtfulness about the changeable and powerful human destiny – the Fortune, - remains the main philosophic pivot of the cantata.

The Fortune’s wheel will never get tired of spinning
I’ll be subverbed from the peak, humiliated
At interim the other one will rise and cheer up
By the same wheel will be uplifted to the hights.

The first performance of the cantata “Carmina Burana” in 1937 created a furore. After the premiere the composer told his publisher: “Everything that I have written before, and you, unfortunately, have published, you can destroy. My set of works starts with “Carmina Burana”. The cantata “Carmina Burana” that was previously performed on the territory of the former Soviet Union only in the concert version for the first time received its stage life in the production of Valentin Elizariev. The choreographer created his own plot line of the ballet from the florid crowd of poets, their friends, monks, sinners, by showing with a close shut the images of a Poet, Beloved, the Scarlet Woman and Abbot. Soloists and ballet artists, and also the soloists of the opera and the choir of the theatre participate in the grandiose vocally-choreographic performance.

Ballet programme
O Fortuna!
Spring gives rise to love
Beloved
Poet
Vagrants
Poet’s temptation
Scarlet Woman 
Abbot
In the tavern
Poet’s riot
Love’s triumph
Repentance
The court of love
Farewell
O Fortuna!

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