Music theatre

»He did not merely require singers on stage, but complete human beings.«[[1]

»Orff was a man of the theatre from head to toe. He did not merely require singers on stage but complete human beings as singing actors-dancers-mimes to bring his total theatre concept to fruition.« (Wolfgang Fortner)[1] (Carl Orff with Riccardo Muti at rehearsals for Carmina Burana, Berlin 1980)
(Carl Orff with Riccardo Muti at rehearsals for ›Carmina Burana‹, Berlin 1980)

   

»I remember numerous [...] visits to his home on Lake Ammer where he played me a few samples. Actually “played” is a slight understatement of what I experienced; it was much more a complete communication of his entire envisaged concept.« (Carlos Alexander)[2] (Carlos Alexander as Prometheus at the first performance, Stuttgart 1968)
»Whoever has experienced the master sitting at the piano in his large and spacious study and communicating his ideas ranging from a whispered word against an almost inaudible accompaniment to a thunderous noise erupting from the entire keyboard is familiar with this experience and has already got the message.« (Gustav Rudolf Sellner, quoted by Carlos Alexander)[2] (Carl Orff in conversation with Wieland Wagner)
»He leaves almost the entire process of bringing the roles to life to the singers and makes incredibly high demands on their dramatic skills and artistic affinity. He demands knowledge, stylistic familiarity and a particular talent for the treatment of language and thereby unleashes an enormous imaginative freedom and in an ideal case also a maximum of expressive possibilities and nuances of colour.« (Roland Hermann)[3] (Clemens Krauss, Carl Orff, Rudolf Hartmann and Josef Kugler at work on the first performance of ›Der Mond‹ 1939, from left to right)
»He never tired of emphasising the importance of language treatment and the characterisation of the sung text and of tirelessly displaying how much he had set his heart on the exact appreciation of the spoken word in dialogue.« (Hans Hotter)[4] (Wieland Wagner and Carl Orff at the first performance of ›Antigonae‹ in Stuttgart, 1956)
»I could not have wished for better performers than Ferdinand Leitner, Caspar Neher and Hans Schweikart.« (Carl Orff on the performance of the ›Bernauerin‹ by the Bavarian State Opera 1947)[5] (Carl Orff and Ferdinand Leitner, first performance of ›Oedipus‹, Stuttgart 1959)
»Following a number of hasty and all too brief meetings and discussions with the ›extremely busy man‹[...], Karajan surprised me in February 1952 with his idea of additionally undertaking the production of Trionfi. I was pretty shocked at this suggestion [...], but nevertheless agreed to attend the performance. At that time, I was [...] suffering from a flu relapse and my experiences of the evening were therefore completely lost in my ›feverish delirium‹. I can only remember that I was shaken out of my sleep with the sound of catcalls.«[6] (Oedipuse, record recording 1967)

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[1] Wolfgang Fortner: Carl Orff zum Gedenken, in: Neue Zeitschrift für Musik 5(1982), p. 24; [2] Carlos Alexander: Erinnerungen an Carl Orffs Prometheus, in: Carl Orff. Ein Gedenkbuch, ed. Horst Leuchtmann, Tutzing 1985, p. 33; [3] Roland Hermann: Erlebnisse eines Sängers mit der Prometheus-Rolle, in: Carl Orff. Ein Gedenkbuch, ed. Horst Leuchtmann, Tutzing 1985, p. 42/43; [4] Hans Hotter: Erinnerungen an Carl Orff, in: Carl Orff. Ein Gedenkbuch, ed. Horst Leuchtmann, Tutzing 1985, p. 62; [5] CO-Dok VI,172; [6] CO-Dok VI,174/176
Images : 1 OZM; 2 Werner Schloske; 3-4 OZM; 5 Madeline Winkler-Betzendahl,  German Theatre Museum Munich; 6 Madeline Winkler-Betzendahl, c/o German Theatre Museum; 7 Siegfried Lauterwasser
Video: Media Programm/Werner Lütje, 1990

During rehearsals for Oedipus
with Rafael Kubelik, 1967

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