Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Carmina Burana at the Egg

This one was fun to write. Excerpt from the Beijinger's blog:

The signature movement, without question, is the opening, O Fortuna. If the name means nothing to you, the tune surely does. Give it a listen and see what image it conjures. Personally, I think about the promo for Wrestlemania XIV’s match pitting the Undertaker, with his black full-length trench coat, black Stetson hat and general bad-assitude, against his brother Kane.

If your point of reference is different, that’s understandable. Since first being performed by the Frankfurt Opera in 1937, this two-and-a-half-minute piece has enjoyed remarkable crossover appeal, appearing in everything from video games and movie previews to advertisements and So You Think You Can Dance; it has been spoofed, synthesized and remixed by hip-hop producers, deejays, comedians, classical musicians, et al. It is quite possibly the most recognizable classical piece of the 20th century.

Yet after all that, the best version is still probably the original, which is capable of exposing the hopeless imitators. In Hate Me Now, rapper Nas, with O Fortuna as his beat line, bewails of the mercurialness of fate: “It’s a thin line between paper and hate, friends and snakes, nine millis and thirty-eights, Hell or the pearly gates.” Not to say I don’t appreciate Nas’ obvious skills as a wordsmith, but rhyming seems like a ditty compared to the rage and choler of the speaker in the original:

Fate – monstrous
and empty,
you whirling wheel,
you are malevolent,
well-being is vain
and always fades to nothing,
and veiled
you plague me too;
now through the game
I bring my bare back
to your villainy.

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