On November 23, the Bohemian Symphony Orchestra Prague will perform one of the most famous works in music history, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, in the Smetana Hall of the Municipal House in Prague. Approximately 160 artists from the Bohemian Symphony Orchestra Prague, Bohemian Choir Prague, and international soloists will be led by the orchestra’s chief conductor Martin Šanda. This is a rescheduled concert from April last year, which did not take place due to the pandemic measures in force at the time, Kateřina Dědková informed.
The soloists will be Czech soprano Noema Erba and soloists of the National Theatre: Austrian-Brazilian baritone Miguelangelo Cavalcanti and tenor Josef Moravec. “In addition to the classical choir, the concert will also feature the children’s choir Rokytka, thus guaranteeing the complete originality of the performance. A special light choreography will accompany the whole concert. It will therefore be a spectacular audiovisual show,” said Dědková.
Martin Šanda commented that a few classical works enjoy such popularity across generations and listeners of different musical genres. Carmina Burana is often on the program of festive concerts. In 2016, for example, the Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava performed it in front of a sold-out hall of the Ostrava House of Culture during a New Year’s concert. The Prague Symphony Orchestra included it at the end of its 81st concert season at the Municipal House in the same year.
The cantata Carmina Burana was composed by the German composer Orff on the motives of the eponymous set of medieval religious, satirical, moralistic, love, drinking, and other poems and songs written around 1230. From the medieval manuscript, discovered in 1803, Orff selected only some of the more than 200 original texts written in Old German, Latin, Old French, and Italian, which he set to music.
Carmina Burana was first performed on June 8, 1937, at the Frankfurt Opera House under Bertil Wetzelsberger and Oskar Wälterlin. The piece is usually performed in concert and stage performances, for example, in the theatre with a ballet company or non-traditional spaces such as courtyards and natural amphitheaters, with more musical choreography. For its dramatic quality, Carmina Burana’s music is often used as film music, appearing, for example, in the 1981 film Excalibur by director John Boorman. The poem O Fortuna, set to music, has also been used by the ‘King of Pop’ Michael Jackson in his concerts.