Join us for the most powerful concert of the season!
O Fortuna! The overwhelming opening chorus of Carl Orff’s vividly scenic cantata Carmina Burana is one of the most impressive opening sequences in music, and the huge forces required to perform this work make it a big event. We hope you’ll join us for what promises to be a powerful experience as the Oslo Philharmonic perform it in Oslo’s biggest arena, Oslo Spektrum, with Finnish conductor Dalia Stasevska conducting, top level soloists and a massive choir in a musical celebration of joy, desire and life itself.
In 1934, Carl Orff (1895−1982) discovered a 19th century edition of the medieval manuscript Carmina Burana, and after soliciting help from his friend Michel Hofmann to select texts for a libretto, he embarked on composing a scenic cantata of the same name. The latin text, with various insertions of Middle High German, is a series of reflections over life’s joys, desires and temptations and how joy (O Fortuna) steers the way of the world.
Orff was inspired by the melodic turns of the 16th century, and the musical language lends strong associations to both worldly dance music and sacred stylistic ideals from this era. What is astonishing is Orff’s characteristic and direct expression. His music has little in common with the complex modernistic music which characterised the first half of the 20th century. Instead, Orff uses the orchestra and the choir in an unusually effective way in order to achieve as much power and spectacle as possible. Both the rhythmical drive and the sparkling orchestration might remind one of Stravinsky’s early orchestral works, but in Orff’s hands, the results are almost cinematic.
The opening chorus O Fortuna is decidedly the most famous part of the work and arguably one of the greatest “hits” in classical music. The part has a mysterious power and dramatic expression which could come straight out of Lord of the Rings, or similar epic films. This part of Carmina Burana has been used (and arguably misused) in hundreds of films, TV shows, advertisements, computer games, and many other popular contexts. Perhaps one of the best known of these is the sequence from the film The Doors (1991) where O Fortuna is used to illustrate the leader of the band and his substance abuse.
Carmina Burana has remained remarkably popular since its spectacular world premiere, in Frankfurt in 1937, and not even the Nazis’ clammy embrace of the work in the 1930s and 1940s has affected its popularity. Even after the war, the piece was performed all over the world to great acclaim from a much larger audience than that usually reached by classical orchestra music. This is music which really packs a punch − whether you like rock, pop, classical, EDM or heavy metal.
The music world prepares for a great moment as The Academic Choir Association performs Carl Orff’s curious choral work “Carmina Burana” for choir and orchestra, under the direction of the young conductor Arnulv Hegstad on Sunday, wrote Dagbladet before the very first performance of the piece in Norway, in November 1955. At the time, the Oslo Philharmonic needed reinforcements − especially in the percussion section − to be able to perform it at all. The huge success was repeated in Oslo already in 1957, with Hegstad again conducting. Since then, the work has been performed a number of times, both in the Opera and by the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra − always with a huge impact on the audience.
(Text: Thomas Erma Møller; Translation from Norwegian: Sarah Osa)Read more
- Adult: 450 - 650 NOK