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Nashville Ballet’s Carmina Burana

Nashville Ballet will conclude its 30th anniversary season on the main stage with a local collaboration of epic proportions during Carmina Burana April 22-24, 2016, at TPAC’s Jackson Hall. The season finale will also include the world premiere of Nashville Ballet Artistic Director & CEO Paul Vasterling’s Layla & The Majnun.

Carmina Burana Graphic. Photo David Bailey

Carmina Burana will feature 148 singers from The Nashville Symphony Chorus, 61 musicians from The Nashville Symphony, 25 choristers from the Nashville’s Children’s Choir and three guest vocalists, alongside 24 dancers from Nashville Ballet.Based on a collection of poems written by clergy and theology students in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, Carmina Burana examines love, fortune and the cycle of life.

The ballet is set to the iconic music of German composer Carl Orff written in the 1930s. The opening piece, O Fortuna, has made its mark as one of the most recognizable pieces of music in the world. Its strong percussive elements, ancient lyrics and ominous tone make it a frequent choice for movie and television placements, video games and sports games.

“The music is magnificent on its own, but when paired with dance it creates an almost spiritual experience,” Vasterling said. “The ballet explores humanity’s highs and lows, and ultimately the role that sheer fortune plays in our lives. The music mimics the theme of the entire work—it circles back to end where it all begins.”

Carmina Burana. Photo Heather Thorne
Heather Thorne Fortuna is visually represented by the Wheel of Fortune in the ballet, a constant reminder of fate’s fickle nature. Additionally, the original parchment material that the poems were written on inspired portions of former Nashville Ballet company member Eric Harris’ costume designs and Vasterling’s choreography.

Carmina Burana will be complemented by the world premiere of Layla& The Majnun. With roots in 5th century Persia, Layla & The Majnun has become one of the most popular love stories of the Middle Eastern world (similar to Romeo & Juliet in the West). The ballet, which explores themes of unrequited love, devotion and spiritual enlightenment, is presented to original music by renowned American composer Richard Danielpour.

“Layla& The Majnun offers important insight into the cultural richness of ancient Persia,” Vasterling said. “This story hasn’t been told on a large scale in the West, so it’s a unique opportunity for audiences of all backgrounds to come together and have a shared experience of cultural understanding.”

Tickets for Carmina Burana with Layla & The Majnun start at $28 and can be purchased in person at the TPAC box office in downtown Nashville, by phone at (615) 782-4040 or at www.nashvilleballet.com. A complete performance schedule and more information can be found here.

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