Of course Missoula Symphony Orchestra Director Darko Butorac’s last performance with the Missoula Chorale would be a blowout: featuring the epic cantata Carmina Burana.
Carl Orff’s 1937 choral work opens and closes with the dramatic “Fortuna, Imperatrix Mundi,” which has one of the most well-known choruses of all time.
“It’s super powerful,” Butorac said. “To hear it live is magnificent.”
Although the work starts and ends with a foreboding number, Butorac noted Carmina Burana contains many humorous sections.
The lyrics are taken from a series of medieval poems that are about the human condition, as well as love (both noble and debauched) and sin.
“Some of the poems are quite raw and don’t leave much to the imagination,” Butorac said. “(Poems) that are quite, let’s say, PG-13 rated.”
His favorite sections included the more lighthearted sketches — like the tenor solo (to be sung by visiting artist Christopher Pfund) sung from the perspective of a swan. But the swan is not swimming on a lake or flying through the air; no, it’s being roasted over a fire to be eaten.
“It’s ridiculous right?” Butorac laughed, adding the tenor sings in a high falsetto, mimicking a nervous bird.
The other guest singers include soprano Christi Amonson and baritone Corey McKern. The guest artists will accompany the chorus and sing solos throughout the three-part episodic cantana.
The symphony’s main job in Carmina Burana is to illustrate the words, Butorac said, as in the swan song, where the music is simply a bassoon, along with the falsetto singing.
Butorac particularly liked Orff’s arrangement for its sections with two pianos and percussion alone, a unique “raw” sound for an orchestra.
“The voice takes the major part of the piece,” he said. “The beauty of a piece set to words is to see how the music accompanies it.”