Carl Orff’s oratorios with one intermission
Mari National Opera and Ballet Theatre
Conductors Eri Klas and Mihhail Gerts
Director Mai Murdmaa
Vocal soloists: Jassi Zahharov, Marion Melnik, Oliver Kuusik, Tatyana Kostina/soprano, Vladimir Cheberyak/tenor
Opera Chorus and Boys´Choir of Estonian National Opera, chamber choir Voces Musicales
“Carmina Burana” is one of the masterpieces of the 20th century – on the one hand a captivating and witty music and on the other hand the text depicting the inconstancy of the fate of a simple man living in the Middle Ages and his joys of life. “Trionfo di Afrodite” consists of hymns celebrating the Greek goddess of love. The 2012 performance staged by an Estonian choreographer.
World premiere: In 1937 in Frankfurt
Premiere of this version: In 2012 in Joshkar-Ola
Choreographer and director Mai Murdmaa:
Carl Orff’s vocal symphonic triptych (Trionfi di Afrodite, Catulli Carmina and Carmina Burana) is connected by the same theme – love. In each part the author has a different initial position. Orff as if mused on this subject, looking for his position.
In Trionfi di Afrodite, the focus is on the man and the woman – the bride and the bridegroom –, but their relationships are not as direct as usual. Both the bridegroom and the bride are full of doubts and fears – the road towards each other is complex and is only fully travelled in the finale.
Catulli Carmina has been set to the poetic texts of the Roman poet Catullus who years for the perfect love that he considers to be embodied by Lesbia who only plays with him. However, Catullus remains confident of his love. This is Catullus’s road of suffering in love.
In Carmina Burana the monks sing of the pleasures of life that they have been deprived of. It is the most affirmative and positive work in the triptych, full of humor and life itself.
As seen above, the problems of love were difficult yet captivating themes for Orff. He approached them in an in-depth and philosophical manner.
Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana is one of the most famous works of the 20th century and its opening movement O Fortuna can be equaled by few works in terms of dramatic flair and power.
Carmina Burana is a majestic, brilliant oratorio or cantata that celebrates life and the Sun.
The work, produced in 1937 for a choir, soloists and the orchestra, is based on the poems found in the Benediktbeuern Abbey and written in the 13th century by travelling students and their travelling monk teachers that talk about love, nature and enjoying wine.
The listener will be impressed by the grand work’s dramatic power and the theatrical side of the music. The simplicity of Orff’s melodies and the pulsating suggestiveness of the special rhythms are the key. Considering the masterful treatment of the barbaric source, this work can only be compared to Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. It’s as if Carmina Burana is simply bursting with primal force and energy. The prevalent theme in the movements is to fully enjoy love, regardless of what fate will bring. Orff has merged the medieval and the contemporary into a timeless hymn, celebrating the vitality of human nature.
The manuscript found at the beginning of the 18th century contained poems and songs by students, townsfolk, monks and travelling musicians – most of all it contained love songs, satirical songs and drinking songs. In 1847 the collection was published under the title Carmina Burana.
90 years later the collection was found by Carl Orff, the composer and musical pedagogue who shaped German musical theater. Orff chose 25 texts for the cantata with the prevalent theme being the goddess of fate, Fortuna. The work consists of three parts: In Spring, In the Tavern and Court of Love.
Carl Orff described his music as “total theatre” and in an inscription writes that these are “secular songs for soloists and choruses, accompanied by instruments and magic images”. In that, the dramatic power and theatricality of the music must certainly be a prime consideration in any interpretation.
Trionfo di Afrodite
“As always, my musical diction blossomed out of words.”
In the Trionfo di Afrodite, Orff combined Ancient Greek poetry with verses in Latin for the first time. Texts from Catullus’ Wedding Poems provide the underlying structure into which fragments from Sappho are inserted in the manner of inlays.
Inspired by the vocal richness of the Greek language, a new melian style with increased expressivity is created. Against the extremely sparse instrumentation, the vocal parts articulate the tonal particles of the language.
The main emphasis is still on melody, rhythm, and orchestral color, all intended to serve the words of the texts (which come from Catullus, Sappho, and Euripides). The pounding rhythms and simple melodies which predominate are contrasted with florid, decorated lyrical phrases for the bride and
Trionfo di Afrodite:
Source: Birgitta Festival