Carmina Burana illustrates the twists and turns of men subject to the whims of fate. This “scenic cantata” with its irresistible energy is adapted from 24 medieval poems derived from secular songs in Latin, German and old French written down by wandering clerics in the 12th and 13th centuries. Discovered at the Benediktbeuern Abbey in Germany, the collection evokes love, springtime, and life’s pleasures: good food, wine and partying.
Composed by Carl Orff in 1935 and 1936, Carmina Burana was originally conceived as a dramatic work integrating dance, décors and other staging elements. Presented for the first time at the Frankfurt Opera in 1937, this remarkable work, one of the most celebrated in choral singing, continues to fascinate. Its first movement, O Fortuna, reprised in the finale, today is world famous. Not really a man of his era, with Carmina Burana Carl Orff nonetheless enjoyed one of the greatest successes scored by a composer in his own lifetime, one that would move him to destroy the bulk of his previous works.
On stage, more than 150 artists will gather: 40 dancers, 70 musicians from Les Grands Ballets Orchestra, 40 choral singers and 3 distinguished soloists: soprano Aline Kutan, tenor Spencer Britten and bass-baritone Alexandre Sylvestre. The ballet follows the structure of the composition, based on the concept of the circle, of the Wheel of Fortune, embodying the cycle of existence, made up of joy, bitterness, worry and hope – the great wheel of destiny that turns, inexorably. Based on this central theme, choreographer Edward Clug has imagined an immense circle overhanging the stage, an orbit drawing men and women into it, like solitary satellites – attracted as though by an invisible magnet – and holding some of them at its center. The powerful breath of Carmina Burana is a bearer of love, of awakening and of constant renewal. Borne by the formidable energy of the group, the passion of the chorus and soloists, the power of the orchestra and the timeless beauty of the score, this pagan ritual sweeps along everything in its path. An ode to life.