Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’ returns to the Amphitheater for final show


The music, the voices, the images, the dancing — the spectacle returns to the Amphitheater at 8:15 p.m. Saturday night with the second and last production of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.

Originally written in the 1930s and based on 13th-century poems, Orff’s masterpiece is a wedding of the medieval and the contemporary, tying together timeless themes of love, renewal and fortune (or fate).

Carmina Burana represents the third year of Chautauqua’s inter-arts collaboration initiative, this time bringing together the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, the Charlotte Ballet and Chautauqua Dance, the Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution and the Chautauqua Motet Choir under the direction of Institution Organist Jared Jacobsen.

Helping in this collaboration — the biggest yet the Institution has undertaken — are outside groups and organizations like the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, the Rochester Oratorio Society and the Pittsburgh Youth Chorus. A driving force can be found in Wayne Hankin, an early music specialist and coordinator of the production, who has composed several new components of Carmina Burana.

More than anything else — a historic work, an unprecedented production for Chautauqua, a collaboration in every sense of the word, from inception to execution — Carmina Burana is a swan song, a final gift from director and retiring Vice President and Director of Programming Marty Merkley.