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 Wheel of Fortune on the first page of the original manuscript becomes a symbol of the whole cantata. The original miniature depicts people: one person rises up, the second is at the top, the third goes down, and the fourth is at the very bottom. This symbol denotes the variability of being. It turns once – and a triumph of happiness takes place, turns twice – and the world is absorbed by sadness. The movement of the wheel of fortune determines the essence of the events taking place on the stage.

Origin history of Carmina Burana ballet

carl orff carmina burana

Karl Orff (07/10/1895 – 29. 03. 1982) is a German composer and music teacher. The composer was best known for his performance of Carmine Buran (1936).

This is the first part of the trilogy called Triumph. Studying the work, it is not difficult to notice the composer’s developing interest in medieval German poetry. The work is based on manuscripts from the thirteenth century under the name “Codex latinus monacensis”, found in the Benedictine monastery of Benedictboyern in 1803. Later the work became known as “Carmina Burana”. Orff used modern compositional techniques, but managed to feel the atmosphere of medieval art and harmony. The simple, but at the same time catching rhythms of the composition take the listener for several centuries ago, to the wayward but great Middle Ages.

Medieval poems written in Latin in early German form sound unusual. “O Fortuna”, a part of this trilogy, was used in Oliver Stone’s The Doors. In Pierre Paolo Pasolini’s film “Salo” or “120 Days of Sodom”, “Veris leta facies” is used as an accompaniment to the final scenes of torture and violence. “Carmina Burana” is the most famous and significant play written and released by Nazi Germany.

Play’s content

The Carmina Burana ballet is divided into two actions. In the first act we see hell. The bodies of sinners with demons personifying their sins are trying to get out of the hellfire, but unsuccessfully. Only one of the sinners managed to get out – he is the main character. The martyr finds himself in an icy desert, inexpressible cold and detachment. Suddenly, an image of an Angel arises in front of him, who offers him a hand and leads the young man. The main character finds himself in a completely new world of benefactors and mutual understanding, where people live in peace and joy.

The hero is fascinated by a world where harmony reigns between man and nature. Soon he meets his Beloved. They spend time together, being keen on each other. Soon the night falls – the time for temptation. In front of a young man appears a Temptress. He rushes after the Temptress into darkness, his mind is absorbed with passion and desire. Soon, the young man finds himself in the dark, unfamiliar landscape alone. The Beloved of the protagonist is looking for him, feeling in her heart that trouble is coming.

The horizon is lit by the scorching sun. The landscape is lit up, come out people praising the joy of being and immortal love. Finally, the girl finds her lover and calls him into the common circle. But the young man, keen on the image of the Temptress, refuses to join the peace circle. Suddenly, in front of the young man, a ghost of his desired arises, he rushes after her, leaving the newly-found Paradise.

The second action. The city of vices. The creatures are half people, half animals, indulging in pleasures. The Demon Tempter rules the ball with his retinue. Suddenly, a young man enchanted by the Temptress comes to Sin City. He is ready for anything for the sake of intimacy with the Demon, falls at her feet and takes a passionate kiss in his mouth. The retinue decides to arrange the ceremony of coronation of the young man. The ceremony is mocking, but the enslaved mind of the young man is unable to recognize something bad: now the Temptress is his queen. The ceremony turns into a coven of witches, a disgusting orgy, and soon the Demon with his retinue leaves the young man. Torn and barely breathing hero sees in the distance the image of the Angel and the Beloved, and only now realizes the bitterness of the loss of Paradise. In Earthly Paradise, the hero is met by the cold Beloved and people’s disdain who do not want to live together with the sinner. However, forgiveness helps the young man reunite with civilians and a loving girl.

About performance Franceska Da Rimini.