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Posted August. 01, 2007 08:50,   


In the 1981 movie, “Excalibur,” King Arthur is revitalized after a drink from the Holy Grail. He leads his knights in shining armor through the field and as he gallops passed wilted flowers on his horse, they come alive blooming with brilliance.

This scene is all the more memorable with the music pulsing through the background. It’s the opening movement, “O Fortuna,” from Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” (photo).

Pop culture finds the explosive sounds from the timpani and incredible vocals of the mixed choir extremely appealing and the music can be heard in numerous films and commercials. It is sampled by many bands and musicians – even Michael Jackson added “O Fortuna” in one of his music videos. The movement is popular and a well-known piece of modern music.

Carl Orff (1895-1982) was a German composer, most famous for “O Fortuna.” For the first time in 12 years, the entire “Carmina Burana” cantata will be performed in Korea.

“Carmina Burana” is a medieval collection of poems found in 1803 at the Benediktbeuern Abbey, a monastery in the Bayern region of Germany. There are 300 poems written by unknown clergy and students in the 12th to 13th century. Orff avoids overt harmonic complexities and repeats simple strains, showing a very distinct style in his composition.

“Carmina Burana” was first staged at the Old Opera House in Frankfurt am Main in June 1937. It enjoyed an immensely successful premiere and turned Orff into an internationally-renowned composer. The choir dresses up as monks and dancers glide across the stage; “Carmina Burana” is known as “total theater,” a production which combines the trinity of music, ballet, and theater.

The “Fortuna Wheel,” or wheel of fortune, is an intricate part of the production and appears on the stage. It is a symbol of the continually spinning wheel of life, sometimes it represents the Earth, and other times it is at the mercy of a goddess who holds the destiny of people in her hand.

About 230 people will participate in the coming presentation of “Carmina Burana” in Korea. This includes performers from Korea National Ballet, the Goyang City Choir, and the Mostly Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO).

It will be held at the Goyang Aram Opera House, August 3 (8:00 p.m.) and August 4 (5:00 p.m.). Tickets are 10,000 to 100,000 won. For more information, call 1577-7766.