Ludus de Nato Infante Mirificus - Ein Weihnachtsspiel (1960)

»Nox, nox, gelida nox!
Nex, nex, frigida nex!«
(Weather spell of the witches)[1]

»It was logical to augment the Easter story with its ›prequel‹. I therefore wrote the Christmas story [...] in 1959/60 and at the same time created the prelude for the Resurrectio, the triumph of all triumphs.« (Carl Orff)

In 1970, Orff combined the Easter and Christmas stories to form a diptych in the manner of a winged alter. As in the ›Comoedia de Christi resurrectione‹, the structure is triadic: the spoken dialogues scenes with the shepherds are framed by musical scenes.[2]

   

(Page of autograph score with Witches’ scene)
(Children in the snow, Stage photo of performance at Theodor-Heuss grammar school in Ludwigshafen 1965)

 

The dramatic principle of reflection in antagonists or minor characters is substantiated in the truest sense of the word right at the beginning: the witches follow the action in the magic mirror. The witches, descendents of the Alpine “Perchten“, speak the local language of the landscape which has spawned them. The weather spell however is formulated in Latin, thereby perverting the liturgical-hymnal sphere into the demonic.

The first performance was initially received to great acclaim, but subsequent success fell far short of the reaction to the Easter play. Both these works were later performed within the framework of church pageants and above all in grammar schools.[2]

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[1] CO-Dok VI,190; [2] Werner Thomas in: Pipers Enzyklopädie des Musiktheaters, Vol. 4, Munich 1991, p.581 ff.
Image: OZM; Bavarian Radio
Audio: Kurt Eichhorn - Ariola Eurodisc 610 606-231

AUDIO:
Ludus de nato

First performance

Plot