Produced with contribution from the Ministry of Heritage and Cultural Activity and Entertainment Department of the local Tourist Board in Maiori for great events in the region of Campania

Premiere : Maiori-15 September 20 06 Rearranged for Madrid en Danza 2010 new version arranged for Prisma festival de Danza contemporanea, Panama 2014


direction and choreography Mauro Astolfi

dancers Maria Cossu, Mario Laterza, Giuliana Mele, Claudia Mezzolla, Giovanni La Rocca, Serena Zaccagnini, Violeta Wulff Mena, Fabio Cavallo, Giacomo Todeschi

music Aleksandar Sasha Karlic, Carl Orff, A. Vivaldi (from Dixit dominus)

lighting design Marco Policastro

stage design Stefano Mazzola

costumes Sandro Ferrone- Roma, Halfon- Roma


Duration 60’






Direction’s notes

One of the most successful production of Spellbound Contemporary Ballet, Carmina Burana was performed more than 100 times , also in Austria , Thailand and Spain .
The Carmina burana manuscripts were found, many (more than three hundred essays of various types) in a volume in the Benedictine abbey from which they take their name. They trace back to the 13th century, when it was common, travelling in Germany and Saxony, to run into the goliards (hence the traditional Italian name given to university students, have little or nothing to do with their medieval namesakes) or more correctly vagrant clerics; scholars studying traditional Greek and Latin poetry, poets of wine, women, travelling and gaming. Impudent, subversive burlesque poetry: they spoke of daily adventures and joyfully discoursed upon the functions while never looking beyond. Forget the silent language of ratio, forget decorum, they even dared to mock the divine with so- called ‘kontrafakurten’ i.e. a disguise of religious hymns and secular songs as a parody of gospel, of confessions and litany. Eros, then becomes Thantos, and thus homo faber becomes homo ludens. “Venus me telo vulneravit / aureo, quod cor penetravit”…


“Venus struck me with a golden arrow which pierced my heart”: the body (unlike that of the damned in ‘Last Judgement’ or a medieval painting which does not know the flourishing of resurrection, only release and lust, as in the verses of Ovid, Marziale and Catullo). From this curious mix of courtly elegance and scurrilous plebean, Mauro Astolfi draws, or rather, freely relies, without any intended philology – upon a choreography that plays between ‘depth’ and ‘excessiveness’ (as an artist to whom ‘average’ rhythm means little or nothing) and employs space almost simply so as to challenge its limits and which is divided into three movements which beat out a liberating crescendo. We pass from a brutal act of aggression (rape?) under the leaden vault of beating rain to a part which is by turns irreverent and grotesque in its allusions to the Giullarate, then finally to a culmination of the incendium cupiditatum, the unleashing of the passions which unfolds within the tavern (and here, as oft was intended in antiquity, we should read “brothel”) a place where the baser instincts may be indulged for a handful of silver… There are two key symbols of this ballet, fallen among an atmosphere which is disquietingly metaphysical: an imposing closet (seen, one would say, from the viewpoint of infancy, which only heightens the mystery) and a table. The former (in which the dancers’ bodies are returned to almost as so many threadbare clothes) represents memories, secrets, “skeletons” hypocritically veiled and hidden away; the latter, a sacrificial altar from the land of Voluptas, laden with bodies almost like tempting foods (Gluttony and Lust being cardinal sins born of the same loins)…


‘Carmina burana’, then, as a reckless cry of dissent, confronts “sin” without excessive fear and takes on taboos with the expressed desire to breach them, consciously defying censorship and anathemas, playing cards with the daily game against death. It revitalises the Chaos of Pan through the harmony of Orpheus; accepting reality without spiritualizing it and perhaps even crosses over to “triviality” and the “obscene”… There are no future rewards awaiting, but we are constrained to live in the present, always aware of a divinity of pagan times which promises no punishments or prizes other than those of immediate contingency. It shouts out that there are no gods, but many demons who might possess and invade us, such as Eros, whom according to Plato, is “a great demon” and, as all demons must be, is “somewhere between a god and a mortal”.


Riccardo Reim



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