The year is 400AD in what is known now as western Europe. After an unprovoked battle with Germainian barbarians, a roman general is left wounded alone on the battlefield seeking refuge in a... See full summary »
An original Latin-language musical comedy about high school life and love. Having just moved to a new town, geeky Barnabus faces his first day at a new high school, and it won't be one ... See full summary »
A great, stirring work, and one of Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's best and most interesting
Carl Orff's Carmina Burana is a work that has been growing on me over the years. Not that I disliked it before, but there was a while when O Fortuna was played so much on the radio and on television I found myself not as receptive to it. However listening to the whole of Carmina Burana I now appreciate it, primarily due to this film and the recording with Ozawa conducting and Sherrill Milnes singing the baritone solo.
I admire Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, and have enjoyed his ideas and opera films. All his work has ranged from good to outstanding, with his 1982 Rigoletto being in my opinion his crowning achievement. This 1975 Carmina Burana is outstanding, one of Ponnelle's best and in terms of ideas and imagination perhaps his most interesting. The music is brilliant and sung brilliantly by a very characterful and compelling chorus, played with evocative richness by the orchestra and conducted with authority. I know some may not like the fact you don't see the orchestra and not much of the chorus other than the occasional jumping up and down, but I didn't mind this personally.
One shouldn't dismiss the soloists either, they are all fantastic. John Van Kesteren as the tenor was the one I knew least, but he has a very pleasing voice. Lucia Popp is my personal favourite, she was a great soprano who died much too young, and here you hear a sincerity and ethereal quality to her already wonderful voice. I know from his performances as Figaro in Ponnelle's films Der Barbier Von Sevilla and Le Nozze Di Figaro and as Einsenstein in Die Fledermaus, that Hermann Prey had a clear hearty voice and always entertaining to watch. Here he is a little more subdued, but the resonance and clarity is still there as well as the presence.
Ponnelle's films and set and costume designs were always interesting. Some may criticise them for being too old-fashioned or too simple, however I find them very elegant. In Carmina Burana other than the music, it was the visuals that made this Carmina Burana so good. The costumes and settings are incredibly authentic and give the work its lust and piety, in fact of all Ponnelle's films it is Carmina Burana that contains some of his most evocative and imaginative ideas. The camera work is also excellent, and enhances the drama rather than distracts from it. The sound gives justice to the orchestration's power and the picture quality while not the clearest of other productions I've seen is above average.
All in all, a wonderful Carmina Burana. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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