Tuesday, July 12, 2016

O Cohors, Induamur Spectaculum!*

And now for something completely different...

This treasure first entered my fevered brain thanks to dear Jon, who highlighted one of its many, well, highlights over in his charming corner of the world, inspiring to go and discover the remarkable whole.

Carmina Burana is never a notably subtle sort of piece, and in the hands of a particularly creative set of West German TV producers circa 1975 (and apparently with the enthusiastic participation of the composer, Carl Orff, himself), its contradictions are, if anything, enhanced and celebrated. The music is brash and extravagant - but quite capable of turning on a dime from bombast to a kind of piercing intimacy. The star voice here is that of Mme. Lucia Popp, the Slovakian diva whose gleaming soprano adorned the greatest opera companies of the world before her premature departure for Fabulon in 1993.

But there's no question that, especially as staged here, it's an ensemble work, and a, well, for want of a better word, vivid one. If you're looking for something that draws on liturgical traditions, crosses that strain with some of the grace of a village's annual tableaux vivants, and then throws in a great deal of capering along with some rather breathlessly executed sub-Robbins/de Mille choreography, but then ups the ante with, among other elements, a pond-based water ballet, an assault on a feminine castle by a distinctly phallic battering ram, and - just for the hell of it - some hearty mixed-gender wrestling - well, have I got an entertaining hour or so for you.

In the end, it's completely diverting, both oddly endearing and quite entirely entertaining - a very satisfying way to pass a summer's evening. One can at least watch some frolicky, flirty, mildly naughty goings-on, even if none are at the moment immediately at hand.

But the Mister heads home this weekend, and Ramadan's behind us, so... O Fortuna, indeed!

* Or, "Hey, gang - let's put on a show!" in Google-Latin. It really does have everything but a Carmen Miranda impression, and I'm betting that at one point they even considered that...


  1. I started watching this before I read your comments and didn't realize I was in for a full performance until about seven minutes in.

    o Fortuna.

  2. I'm thrilled you found it so bewitching - now, I really must set aside the time to watch it, in its entirety, myself... Jx

  3. I watched this just the other day. It is so entertaining and I have always loved this piece.

  4. Thank you for putting this up! It's always been a favorite work, and this version is terrific. What an excellent find.

  5. Thank you for putting this up! It's always been a favorite work, and this version is terrific. What an excellent find.