Carmina Burana ballet

Music by Carl Orff
Choreography by Anatoly Emelianov

The premiere of the ballet was held on March 2nd, 2019 in Johanessburg, South Africa

The famous drawing The Wheel of Fortune on the first page of the original manuscript became the symbol of cantata. In the miniature representing The Wheel of Fortune are the human characters: one – levitating up, second at the top, thid – precipitating down and forth – spread at the bottom. There is a sign correlating with it: Regno, Regani, Sunshine Rego, Regnabo (I am reigning I have finished reigning, I am without reign, I shall reign). Cantata scenic conception in many respects resulted from this impressive allegoric symbol. The moving Wheel of Fortune is visualisation of the prologue epilogue and framing the scene in three parts: 1. Primavera; 2. In tavern; 3. Cour d’amours, consisting of twenty three poetic “picturesque” texts about love, spring, drinking, some satirical songs and a few hymnal strophes. The genre of his production is described by the composer as “Secular songs for singers and choruses to be sung togethe with instruments and magic images. “The first Orff’s biographer, the music historian A.Lisse wrote: “This theatrical fantasy is not the action drama but static theatre of’tableau vivant'”. And indeed Orff’s cantata is closely related to the fresco, mosaic, panel-painting – it has a similar simplicity of the expression tools, thick strokes, the language of symbols, there is the refuse of usage of the fine detailed and delicate psychological nuance The uniform motion – the movement of Wheel of Fortune – is the principal structural element of the composition, which keeps the whole composition construction in the exemplary order.

Carl Orff 10 July 1895 – 29 March 1982) was a German composer and music educator.

Orff is best known for Carmina Burana (1936), a “scenic cantata”. It is the first part of a trilogy that also includes Catulli Carmina and Trionfo di AfroditeCarmina Burana reflected his interest in medieval German poetry. The trilogy as a whole is called Trionfi, or “Triumphs”. The composer described it as the celebration of the triumph of the human spirit through sexual and holistic balance. The work was based on thirteenth-century poetry found in a manuscript dubbed the Codex latinus monacensis found in the Benedictine monastery of Benediktbeuern in 1803 and written by the Goliards; this collection is also known as Carmina Burana. While “modern” in some of his compositional techniques, Orff was able to capture the spirit of the medieval period in this trilogy, with infectious rhythms and simple harmonies. The medieval poems, written in Latin and an early form of German, are often racy, but without descending into smut. “Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi”, commonly known as “O Fortuna”, from Carmina Burana, is often used to denote primal forces, for example in the Oliver Stone film The Doors.] The work’s association with fascism also led Pier Paolo Pasolini to use the movement “Veris leta facies” to accompany the concluding scenes of torture and murder in his final film Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom.

With the success of Carmina Burana, Orff disowned all of his previous works except for Catulli Carmina and the Entrata (an orchestration of “The Bells” by William Byrd (1539–1623)), which were rewritten until acceptable by Orff. Later on, however, many of these earlier works were released (some even with Orff’s approval). As an historical aside, Carmina Burana is probably the most famous piece of music composed and premiered in Nazi Germany. Carmina Burana was in fact so popular that Orff received a commission in Frankfurt to compose incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which was supposed to replace the banned music by Mendelssohn. After several performances of this music, he claimed not to be satisfied with it, and reworked it into the final version that was first performed in 1964.