Comœdia de Christi resurrectione - Ein Osterspiel (1956)

»This is a rude awakening throughout the land, all around.« (Early spring monologue by the sentry)[1]

This Easter play was triggered off by the reaction to Orff’s well-known Christmas story ›Weihnachtsgeschichte‹ (music: Gunild Keetman), which was written within the context of the Orff Schulwerk for Bavarian Radio school music programmes and broadcast for the first time in 1948. The broadcasting company subsequently commissioned Orff to compose an Easter play for a television production.

The work is in triadic form: the core section which consists of spoken text in dialogue is transcended by the framing musical sections. As the figure of Christ is absent from the representation and Orff no longer considered it possible to allow the »naive« figures from the history of salvation to appear within the framework of a work for music theatre, he selected the dramatic principle of reflection. The sentry men guarding the grave are not actors, but commentators. They do not speak dialect, but utilise the artistic language »Orff-Bairisch« [Orff Bavarian] which the composer had created for ›Die Bernauerin‹ (1947) and subsequently utilised as the medium for his »world theatre«.[2]

 

(Detail of poster, Ludwigshafen am Rhein 1961)
(Angels’ chorus, stage photo of the first televised performance 1956)
(Plakat, Heidelberg 1961)

 

The television production and the first staged performance were both well received by the public and the press, but found little resonance within the world of professional theatre. Although a certain stage skill and knowledge of the technical apparatus of the theatre is necessary, the work is perfectly suitable to be presented by amateur groups as is documented by numerous performances in grammar schools.[2]

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[1] CO-Dok VI,187; [2] Werner Thomas in: Pipers Enzyklopädie des Musiktheaters, Vol. 4, Munich 1991, p.581 ff.
Images : 1 OZM; 2 Photo: Paul Sessner; 3 OZM
Audio: Kurt Eichhorn - Ariola Eurodisc 610 606-231; Video: Bavarian Radio, 1956

Comœdia
Excerpt from the first broadcast on BR 1956

›› Start Video ››

AUDIO:
Christ ist erstanden

First performance

Plot