The opening concerts of the Santa Barbara Symphony’s 2022-23 season, with a program they have named “Carmina Burana — Song, Dance, & Symphony,” will be conducted by Maestro Nir Kabaretti, and will boast what Hollywood publicity flacks call a “cast of thousands.”
To wit: soloists Jana McIntyre, soprano; Valdis Jansons, baritone; and Randall Scotting, countertenor; with the State Street Ballet, William Soleau, choreographer, Rodney Gustafson, founding director; the Santa Barbara Choral Society; Jo Anne Wasserman, director, Quire of Voyces; Nathan Kreitzer, director; and the Music Academy Sing! Children’s Chorus, Erin McKibben, director.
The concerts will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16, in the Granada Theater.
Gabriel Fauré’s “Pavane in f#-minor, Opus 50 (1887),” featuring the State Street Ballet, choreographed by William Soleau; the “Bacchanale” from Camille Saint-Saëns’s opera, “Samson and Delilah, Opus 47 (1877);” and Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana, a scenic cantata.” (1937)
“Song & Dance”— I have come to understand those two words encompass all music, which is composed to either carry words or direct movement (even a march can be viewed, in this context, as a very strict form of a dance).
Thus the first thing the three works presented here have in common — however they differ from each other — is that they are all music. The second thing is that — however differen — they are all immediately pleasing, and need no explanation whatsoever.
With a strong sense of irony, I observe that both Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) and Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921), apart from being both French, and contemporaries, share a reputation for practicing a formal, even superficial, brand of classicism, in which the perfect construction of their works precludes emotional depth, or, conversely, gaiety and delight (not to mention sensuality).
These mistaken notions should be easily dispelled by the first few notes of either Fauré’s “Pavane” or Saint-Saëns’s “Bacchanale.”
Carl Orff (1895-1982) had his own set of misunderstandings to transcend — the worst being that he was a house composer for the Nazis (mea culpa). Orff never joined the party, and never went out of his way to ingratiate himself to Goebbels, who was, among other perversions, cultural czar of the Third Reich.
Indeed, so disconnected does Orff seem from the momentous events of his time that this, too, has been worked up into a charge against him. But I have come to believe that Orff was entirely innocent of any collaboration—innocent to a degree that makes him sometimes seem almost simple-minded.
In fact, the Nazis—who, like all totalitarians played the role of prigs in public—kept their distance, at first, from the “Carmina Burana,” on account of the bawdy lyrics. They came around pretty quick, of course, and the work became the most popular music produced during the 12-year run of the Thousand-Year Reich. (Granted, the competition was never very stiff.)
This performance honors Orff’s original intention for the work, which he dubbed a “scenic cantata”— that is, something to be watched as well as heard.
Nir Kabaretti and the Santa Barbara Symphony are going all out on this event, and it’s bound to pay off, considering the irresistible vehicles. Orff, for all that he was a musical educator of considerable influence and renown, was also a kind of Til Eulenspiegel, a merry prankster, and this impish playfulness is seldom absent from any of his works.
These performances are presented by the Granada Theater, the Santa Barbara Symphony, and the State Street Ballet; the program is sponsored by Brooks & Kate Firestone (Principal Concert Sponsor); Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp (Artist Sponsors); plus Chris Lancashire, Ruth ad John Matuszeksi, Wallin Studios, and Drs. Fred and Linda Wudl.
Tickets to “Carmina Burana” are $35, $55, $80, $115 and $175. They can be purchased in person at the Granada box office, 1330 State St.), by phone at either 805-898-9386 or 805-899-2222, or online at https://ticketing.granadasb.org/16746.
— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at email@example.com. The opinions expressed are his own.