Monday, 24 July 2017

O Fortuna!

I went out today, coming back tired out and hurting. I played the 'Carmina Buruna' by Carl Orff to myself while I recovered.

This opera was written in the 1930's, based on 12th Century manuscripts discovered in a German Monastery where they had lain unnoticed for seven centuries.

The illuminated manuscripts were controversial when they were found. They didn't conform to the 1930's view of medieval life or monasteries. The manuscripts included scenes set in a pub, descriptions of sex and wild behaviour. They were an earthy and unexpectedly explicit description of life in the early middle ages.

The first section (and the last) is based on 'The Wheel of Fortune' manuscript;

O Fortune.
like the moon
you are changeable,
ever waxing
and waning;
hateful life
first oppresses
and then soothes
as fancy takes it;
and power
it melts them like ice.
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.

Fate is against me
in health
and virtue,
driven on
and weighted down,
always enslaved.
So at this hour
without delay
pluck the vibrating strings;
since Fate
strikes down the strong man,
everyone weep with me!

                      I bemoan the wounds of Fortune

                         I bemoan the wounds of Fortune
with weeping eyes,
for the gifts she made me
she perversely takes away.
It is written in truth,
that she has a fine head of hair,
but, when it comes to seizing an opportunity
she is bald.
On Fortune's throne
I used to sit raised up,
crowned with
the many-coloured flowers of prosperity;
though I may have flourished
happy and blessed,
now I fall from the peak
deprived of glory.
The wheel of Fortune turns;
I go down, demeaned;
another is raised up;
far too high up
sits the King at the summit -
let him fear ruin!
for under the axis is written
Queen Hecuba.

It's very funny - fortune comes along with a full head of hair and then, darn it, leaves bald.

It's also quite threatening - let the King fear ruin!

And always the reminder that what goes up has a tendency to come right back down with the turn of the wheel of fortune. 

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Contact me:

1 comment: