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preceded by Verdi - Overtures and excerpts from
Nabucco, Forza del Destino, Aida, Trovatore

Soprano: Lucia Cesaroni
Baritone: Thomas Berau
Tenor: Michal Pavel Vojta
North Bohemian Theatre Ballet, Usti nad Labem
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Brighton Festival Chorus & Youth Choir/Walter Haupt

18th January 2009 at O2, Greenwich

Carl Orff's ever popular Carmina Burana has been touring worldwide before audiences of thousands in an irresistible staging by Walter Haupt, an extravaganza culminating in Greenwich's vast arena with fireworks, which brought to mind the ceremonies of the Olympics in Beijing 2008.

Our allotted seats in the vast arena gave little view of the orchestra in a selection of Verdi opera favourites which preceded the main event, and the amplified sound from there was less than satisfactory, sounding like a mono recording disconcertingly emanating from the left hand corner. But a change of seating upwards for Carmina Burana made a huge difference, and the sound quality was impressive and centrally focused.

Composer/conductor Walter Haupt, a pupil and close friend of Orff's, has long been involved with visual extravaganzas and created MONUMENTAL OPERA's CARMINA BURANA as a gigantic spectacle for the composer's birth centenary.

Carl Orff (1895- 1982) had envisaged a "choreographic-mimic" realisation of his score, set to medieval poems in Late Latin, High German and Old French, but he left open how it might be staged.

It was all put over with zestful commitment by the Brighton singers and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The soloists were excellent all three, and their songs were mimed by dancers on stage. The thirty dancers donned 300 costumes between them, so we were told. For those few who afforded the lavishly illustrated programme (£9) and took the time to study it before the venue was darkened, there were good essays about the composer and introductions to the 24 scenes of "magical images", but most of us were left to enjoy the spectacle and the robust musical setting, without surtitles to help. [The Carmina Burana poems with translations are on line at http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/works/orff-cb/carmlyr.php]

For an earlier appreciation of this long running world touring show do see Tim Page in Washington Post (2005) and read Ed Vincent of Chicago, with a fine selection of photos from the Oak Park Journal, one of them copied here.

Peter Grahame Woolf

On sale at the venue (which we locals persist in calling The Dome) was Tony Palmer's film O Fortuna ! with excerpts from Carmina Burana and Orff's operas Oedipus der Tyrann etc.

See also Carmina Burana original version.